4 Tips for Writing for Patients in Clinical Trials

by Erica Manning

Writing for patients can be tricky. Now, layer in the unique challenges of those participating in clinical research trials. Intimidated? Don’t be. By sticking to a few parameters, you can write content that is purposeful, engaging and doesn’t cause a compliance nightmare.

Prove you know your audience

Put yourself in their place. Research their indication and understand the symptoms and most common treatments. Reach out to people you may know who are challenged with the disease. There are also blogs, diaries, and personal essays available on the web. Each person’s experience is unique – but you will find common themes in how people feel and what their first thoughts were upon diagnosis.

Have a single call to action

Why are you writing this piece? What do you want the audience to get out of it? Is your intent to inform or to persuade? Answering these questions before starting will keep you on track with your direction and purpose throughout the writing process. Pulling the reader in multiple directions will dilute your message and can leave your audience feeling confused.

Keep it simple

Use active voice statements: The study medication reduced blood pressure in patients reads better than the passive blood pressure was reduced by the study medication in patients. Avoid industry or professional terms. Do your best to write to a fifth grade reading level. This doesn’t mean write in a condescending way to those you assume are less educated. Writing simply requires forethought and effort. There is value if the largest audience has the best chance of understanding your message. These efforts will ensure your message is clear and straightforward.

Be fair

Use balanced content and avoid inflammatory language. Do not make promises or infer the patient will receive improvements or benefits by participating in a study. It should be clear the sponsor is still investigating whether the compound or device works.

By considering these few points, you will be able to ensure your patient-facing materials are engaging and effective.


This is the second blog in our series on writing.  Make sure to read the first blog in the series, Writing by Committee; Getting Everyone on the Same Page

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