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Behind the Scenes at Trial Sponsor Companies Part 1: The Atmosphere in Clinical Operations

by Dan McDonald

Patient recruitment and enrollment are key contributors to delays in completion of clinical research trials. How do sponsors tackle their patient recruitment challenges? What priority are these challenges given internally? Imperial wanted to find out.

We surveyed 160 line managers in clinical operations at sponsor companies across the world so we can better understand their attitudes and behaviors regarding patient recruitment. We believe this is the first time such a survey has been done.

Our survey population included: managers and directors of clinical operations, project managers, lead/senior CRAs, and patient recruitment specialists.

The survey was designed to assess: planning, tracking, and strategies. Another area we delved into was the atmosphere at sponsor companies. Here is what we found regarding the company atmosphere and the respondents’ responsibilities:

  • Most have 6-10 daily duties, such as speaking with sites and reviewing data.
  • Second only to participation in daily team meetings, patient recruitment takes up the most time of all activities line managers oversee.
  • Most said they are not empowered or only somewhat empowered to make changes to improve enrollment in the studies they are managing.

When asked to rate their job stress on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being the most stressful, 31.2 percent said 5, followed by 36 percent saying 6 or 7:

patient recruitment survey

So what would I recommend? With a stressful environment and many responsibilities competing for time and focus, it makes sense to develop dedicated teams or bring in outside support to incorporate and spearhead recruitment and enrollment strategies.

In my next blog post, I will discuss enrollment planning, strategies, and metrics, and provide a link to our research brief so you can read it in its entirety.

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