How to Create Better Patient Recruitment Strategies for Clinical Trials

Clinical trials bring new treatments to patients. A successful study relies on volunteers, but finding patients to participate is one of the biggest problems in clinical research. Adopting digital methods may simplify patient recruitment strategies.

How to Create Better Patient Recruitment Strategies for Clinical Trials

Table of Contents

  • Use Digital Marketing in Clinical Trial Recruitment
  • Consider Engaging Patient Communities
  • Avoid Top Challenges in Patient Recruitment

Clinical trials bring new treatments to patients. A successful study relies on volunteers, but finding patients to participate is one of the biggest problems of clinical research. About 80% of trials don’t get enough patients by the start date, leading to delays and costs as high as $8 million per day.

A robust strategy with new methods of engagement and patient recruitment in clinical trials can make the difference between success and failure. Here are some of the best ways to improve your patient recruitment process.

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Use Digital Marketing in Clinical Trial Recruitment

In the past, patient recruitment in clinical research came from physician referrals, radio and newspaper ads, TV commercials, mail-outs, and cold calls. These methods still work and may lead to higher conversion from screening to enrollment. However, digital marketing, such as social media and search engine marketing, is a powerful and more flexible modern method of reaching people.

Social Media

Millions of people use social media for hours every day. Apps like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram represent a powerful active recruitment method. Researchers have successfully used these methods and found that Facebook ads in particular offer flexibility in ad strategies.

A randomized controlled trial for smoking interventions used several web-based marketing tools. Each tool recruited a different number of participants, with Facebook drawing the most, at 49.3% of participants. The researchers found that online marketing tools maximized the effectiveness of their recruitment strategy, leading to a large and diverse sample.

Search Engine Marketing

Search ads are another potential method for digital recruitment. Like Facebook or other social media platforms, you can refine Google ads with keywords and your target audiences. You can then run these ads to people who search for related topics.

Additionally, optimizing your website for search engine results can attract visitors. Content marketing with valuable information about clinical trials can help establish your organization as a trustworthy research leader. It promotes patient education, improves brand trust and visibility, and encourages recruitment.

Consider Engaging Patient Communities

Support groups, advocacy groups, and message boards are valuable communities for patients as safe places to connect with others who understand their condition. These groups also represent a high concentration of potentially ideal or eligible volunteers.

However, it’s best to approach a community with respect. All advertising for clinical trials must meet FDA regulations and pass board review, but you should also pay special attention to language, tone, and imagery.

Advertising and engagement with patient communities should share information that matters to and resonates with patients. Use the same language as the community to help patients understand your ads and to prevent cultural missteps.

For communities linked to a disease nonprofit, partner with the organization to promote the trial through its mailing lists, social media, email campaigns, and events. Patients might be more likely to join a study when information comes from a trusted source. It's also a good idea to make connections, regularly attend community events, and establish relationships with the community to build trust and take time to share about the research not just asking them to join a study. If they recognize or know you, they will be more likely to want to participate.

Avoid Top Challenges in Patient Recruitment

Patient recruitment in clinical trials is challenging for many reasons, including lack of funding, convenience, and awareness. Addressing these challenges with incentives, advertising, and trial adjustments may encourage participation.


Lack of recruitment funding is a major challenge. Recruitment strategies may lack funding, or sponsors may be slow to release the funds, which causes delays. Make sure you have enough funding before you begin recruiting.


The study location and schedule may stop volunteers from participating. It might cost too much to drive a long distance, or the schedule might be inconvenient. Working patients or healthy volunteers often can’t afford time off from work. Operating your study in a central location and larger city during convenient times might encourage more people to get involved.


Lack of awareness is another significant factor. Many healthy participants and patients simply don’t know about trials they might qualify for or understand how the study works. Advertising and patient-friendly education can help inform patients about the risks and benefits and ease fears.

Simplify Recruitment With Studypages

Studypages is a workflow platform designed to simplify research processes including recruitment in clinical trials. With our technology, you can create mobile-friendly, branded recruitment sites to attract and enroll patients. Our platform automates patient outreach, helping you track and retain volunteers. Reduce manual tasks and stay on top of your trial process with real-time insights. Learn more today.

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