Successful clinical trial enrollment involves the development and implementation of a thoughtfully executed strategic plan. The earlier you start planning outreach efforts to allow for strategy and budget development, the better chance you will have of meeting your target enrollment numbers.
The following is an overview of subject recruitment strategies and tools, as well as a cross section of recruitment resources available to research teams. For more information about resources and assistance with developing recruitment and retention strategies, contact JCTOSRC@med.cornell.edu.
PLEASE NOTE: All recruitment strategies, materials, and avenues must be approved by the IRB before they can be implemented or distributed.
DEVELOPING A RECRUITMENT PLAN
The type of strategy and tactics developed as part of your recruitment plan should vary depending on the demographics desired for the study (e.g. age, ethnicity, disease/disorder). Please refer to this subject recruitment strategy guide for assistance in developing a plan.
Researchers, clinicians, and patients can all be great partners as you as you develop a plan to promote your trial. You may wish to crowdsource by asking patients currently enrolled in other trials how they found out about the study, or ask current clinic patients what resources they use to learn about the disease.
Whether you will be recruiting from your patient base or planning extensive outreach efforts, we recommend allocating promotional funds from your overall study budget upfront. Planning early and providing rationale to sponsors will put your team in a better position to succeed in enrollment and retention efforts. Although pharmaceutical companies may include funding for recruitment and materials, the amount or strategy may not match what is needed for your immediate catchment area or patient population.
RECRUITMENT AND PROMOTIONAL OUTLETS
Below are some examples of internal and external resources available to be used as part of your team's recruitment strategy. You may also cross-reference the “Subject Recruitment Tools and Templates” section of the Researcher's Toolbox.
Joint Clinical Trials Office (JCTO) Website In order to provide the general public with a central database of clinical trials offered at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, we require all studies to be posted on the JCTO website. Once your trial has been approved by the IRB, please follow these directions to submit your trial to the website. If you have any questions about this process, please email JCTOSRC@med.cornell.edu.
*Please note that you must include "online" as part of your recruitment strategy in the eIRB application.
- The Clinical and Translational Study Center (CTSC) offers a resource called Research Match, which brings potential research subjects and investigators together. Utilizing this resource requires approval from the IRB.
- For supporting the spectrum of retrospective and prospective study needs, the Architecture for Research Computing in Health (ARCH) provides investigators with data sets amenable to statistical analysis, compliant with regulations and within budget.
- Cohort Discovery (i2b2) enables researchers to discover cohorts of patients using data from EHR systems.
- EPIC alert can notify research teams when outpatients may be eligible for a clinical trial.
- Eclipsys alert can notify research teams when inpatients may be eligible for a clinical trial.
Many communities in and around NYC host street fairs that feature healthcare offerings. Have a leader who is knowledgeable about your clinical trial hand out educational materials and share information about the study. You can also reach out to local community boards, centers, religious organizations, etc. To find out more about these options, please contact our colleagues in the CTSC.
Studies can be promoted on a social media account that exists for your Department, Division or Center. Promotion may take the form of an informational video, graphic or photo, or simply a brief text description with a link to the trial’s JCTO webpage. To draw more eyes to the post, you might use a disease or disorder group hashtag or @ mention/tag a well-known organization. Please tag the Joint Clinical Trials Office (JCTO) Twitter or Facebook accounts for possible amplification of your social media content.
Most social media outlets offer paid avenues to put your posts in front of a desired target audience. Examples include Facebook boosts or ads, Twitter ads or Google ads. These can often be targeted based on geo location, meaning that they can get fairly granular in terms of locating the population demographics of a study.
Weill Cornell Medicine/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital prohibits recruitment materials from being placed on walls in lobbies, restrooms, stairwells, hallways, and elevators except in display frames/bulletin boards and other locations designated for such announcements. Frames/bulletin boards are located near most elevators and cafeteria spaces on campus. Select locations within the Emergency Room are available with permission.
You are encouraged to inquire about cross-promotion of materials in clinical spaces with a patient population that may fit your trial’s eligibility criteria.
Please remember to retrieve or replace materials after an amendment, continuing review or study termination. Investigators and their research staff are required to adhere to these policies. Non-compliance may result in the IRB /JCTO taking action to suspend subject recruitment for a study or an investigator.
External Trial Databases
There are a variety of websites (e.g. Clinical Connection, Center Watch) that compile open clinical trials and allow members of the public to search based on disease area and geographic location. The fee to post studies is often nominal. In addition, certain disease-specific advocacy and education organizations (e.g. MPN Research Foundation) host their own databases of related trials and may be open to including WCM/NYP. Please note that use of these websites must be outlined in your recruitment strategy that is submitted to the IRB.
Many newspapers have websites and offer combination packages of print and online advertising in their health section or classifieds. Examples: MetroNews, amNewYork, Amsterdam News, El Diario
Multimedia and Major Signage
Depending on your trial’s patient population and size, you may wish to consider television, radio or transit ads. Please note that these outlets often require a very substantial budget.
Track Your Efforts
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of a recruitment strategy, it is important to collect specific information about recruits, including name, enrollment date and details regarding how they heard about the study. This tracking can be done as part of the telephone screening or initial intake form for new patients. Evaluating the effectiveness of various recruitment efforts as they are taking place allows you to move resources away from efforts that are ineffective to strategies that are more successful.
Ask for Help
All of the above is meant to help you as you plan your subject recruitment and retention strategy. If there is an avenue you don’t see above and would like to explore, or if you have any questions, please reach out to JCTOSRC@med.cornell.edu.