The clinical trial space has experienced incredible progress over the span of the last several decades. However, some trial organizers may still struggle to achieve sufficient patient recruitment – and stigma may be partially to blame. Let’s dig into the current state of clinical research stigma; then, we’ll outline some ways to break down the stigma of clinical research over time.
Breaking Down the Stigma of Clinical Research
Clinical Research Transparency Is Key
As part of a recent study at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, Americans were asked to explain their overall impressions of clinical trials. The results were startling: only about 40 percent of those surveyed responded positively. From there, only 35 percent of participants said they were likely to enroll in eligible studies. After the study, participants who answered negatively were given more information about clinical trials – specifically, a brief written description of trial practices. After they received the information, 60 percent of respondents answered positively.
While this study is a powerful representation of the stigma that still exists in the clinical trial space, it also communicates an important message: proper patient communication and transparency almost instantly decreases stigma. In addition, organizers should prepare to explain expected outcomes during the recruitment process. This includes preparing information about what the study could mean for individuals, their families, and the larger community.
Prioritize Community to Break Down Stigma
Social media, television advertising, and print ads are all excellent trial recruitment tools, but to shatter community-wide trial stigma, trial organizers need to earn the trust of the public. First, this means that recruiters must exercise cultural competence when recruiting in insular communities. Focus on recruiters who speak different languages, have different cultural backgrounds, and exhibit strong understanding of different communities in your area. Trial organizers should also focus on establishing a presence at community events, including church groups, art fairs, and school carnivals. The more community touch points you establish, the more opportunities you have to help dispel harmful myths about clinical trials.
Challenge Staff Bias
We all hold certain biases on a conscious or unconscious level. Whether we are aware of these beliefs or not, they can directly impact the quality of care offered to individuals participating in clinical trials. For example, one study examined pharmacy students who wanted to distance themselves from individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the study, the patients struggled to secure adequate pharmaceutical consultations, which impacted the quality of their care. As a trial provider, it is your responsibility to sit down with your team to work through unconscious beliefs about patient health. This ranges from everything to patient weight to their race or disability status. By examining your team’s internal biases, you can ensure that your patients receive the best care possible – thereby eliminating negative stigma for future studies.
So, how can you break down the stigma of clinical research? Transparency, communication, community-building, and bias examination are all key steps. Ultimately, patients need to know that their participation is important for the future of medical care – which starts with effective and stigma-free trial facilitation.
Have you ever thought about participating in a clinical trial? You could be a part of history! And QPS Missouri is looking for new participants. Since opening its doors in 1994, QPS Missouri has conducted over 1,000 FDA-regulated studies, paying out over $35 million to local participants. Your local participation could have a global impact, as QPS is an international leader in contract research with facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia. Our mission is to accelerate the development of drugs worldwide by enabling breakthroughs in pharmaceutical innovation. This includes several pediatric studies across several age ranges. If you would like to join us in this crucial healthcare mission, consider applying for a clinical trial.
To get started, you simply need to fill out an online application. Within 48 business hours, a recruiting coordinator will contact you for your pre-screening assessment. To learn more, please visit the QPS Missouri website, review the study participation process, or check out our list of frequently asked questions.