Without patients, clinical research doesn’t happen. Advances in medicine depend on research study participation. Despite the energy and resources put into recruiting, enrolling study participants remains a challenge. If you’re unfamiliar with clinical research, maybe the benefits aren’t so obvious as it is to those of us who are not on the patient side. Here we help to explain the benefits of participating in clinical trials, as well as examine some of the factors that affect research study enrollment.

As of August 2019, there were 107,362 registered studies in the U.S.*

Why do people participate in clinical trials?

Fewer than 10% of Americans participate in clinical trials, but for those who have enrolled, here are the reasons why.

To advance medical knowledge. 86% of people who participated said that the opportunity to improve the health of others was an important factor. Medical questions are often answered by the results of clinical trials, leading to better ways to prevent, detect, diagnose, manage and treat health conditions and diseases.

The possibility of receiving effective treatments. 89% of people who participated said that the opportunity to potentially improve their own health was an important factor. If you have a condition for which there is no current treatment available, the opportunity to try an experimental treatment can be exciting. Receiving new treatments before they’re widely available after other options have failed is also a factor in research study enrollment.

Getting a recommendation from someone they trust. 60% of people who sought information about clinical trials did so from their doctor. Word of mouth is often where people gain their awareness and knowledge of clinical trials. It’s the encouragement from family, friends, and physicians that can influence the decision to consider research study enrollment.

Being compensated for time and travel. 78% of people who participated said that being paid was an important factor. Some people enroll in clinical trials to earn extra money, while compensation is just an added bonus for others.

They had a good experience. 95% of people who participated said they would consider future participation in a clinical trial. 

What are the barriers that affect research study enrollment?

Not everyone shares our excitement about clinical trials. There are a lot of misconceptions and concerns about what participation entails. Here are a few of the reasons people have reservations when it comes to research study enrollment.

Lack of awareness. 88% of people who participated said they rarely spoke about clinical research with others. The more people who know about clinical trials, the more people who are likely to participate. It seems that the people who have the most experience with clinical trials aren’t telling their friends and family about it.

Fear of the unknown. Many people are reluctant to participate because they are afraid. Unknown outcomes and possible side effects are common fears. Researchers may not be able to guarantee outcomes, but patient safety is always of the utmost priority. Patients have rights that protect them, and every trial has enforced oversight.

Questions regarding qualification. 80% of 1,000 respondents claim a physician’s recommendation is an important factor in deciding to participate, yet only 22% of patients said a health care professional had mentioned clinical trials as an option. Unless it’s brought to their direct attention, some people may never consider the possibility of research study enrollment.

Inconvenience. Some people aren’t able to commit to the time it takes to participate in a research study or find that study participation doesn’t work with their schedule. Others find travel to be the main hindrance if they’re unable to transport themselves or find a nearby study location. Certain populations may be underrepresented due to a number of social and economic factors.

They intended to participate. Willing participants will sometimes find that they are unable to participate for a variety of reasons. Maybe they find out they don’t qualify, or if they do qualify, they don’t return their informed consent form. Since patients have the right to discontinue treatment at any time, some participants drop out before the study wraps up.

Source: Trends, Charts, and Maps, ClinicalTrials.gov.

Related posts:
Clinical Studies by the Numbers: 5 Fun Facts
Clinical Trials: Do They Really Work?
Research Study Participation: 5 Benefits to You and Others

Participate in a Research Study

Austin area residents: are you or someone you know struggling with skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, or rosacea? Participating in a research study provides an opportunity to be involved in the process of discovering new treatments while receiving compensation for time and travel. Inquire about eligibility by calling DermResearch at 512-349-0500 or view our current studies.