Engaging the Physician: Writing Right to Promote Your Study

by Carol Moshier

In clinical research, communicating effectively with physicians by way of electronic and print materials is essential to clinical study success.  This can be difficult because physicians and other health care providers have a demanding schedule with little time between patient visits, rounds, and procedures. Time for reading is at a premium. Also, due to their hectic schedule, physicians spend little or no time at a desk and primarily receive electronic materials on their mobile devices.

In general, physicians prefer communication that is clear, concise, and factual, looks professional, and is easy to read. These tips can help written information reach the physician:

  • Grab their attention. If the communication is by email, have a catchy and interestin­­­g subject line.
  • Provide a strong visual or graphic element.
  • Make sure the most important point is in the subject line or title and in the first paragraph.
  • Avoid clichés and jargon.
  • Simplify phrases and avoid using unnecessary words (e.g., use “because” instead of “as a result of” or use “need” instead of “necessitate”).
  • Use active verbs and refrain from excessive use of adjectives such as “key” or “literally.”
  • Provide complete, easy to read information.
  • Avoid information overload.

Reading and retaining information from a large research protocol is challenging. To foster study enrollment and referrals, use the above principles to provide study-specific communications that can help sub-investigators and other referring providers have the confidence to clearly explain the protocol to potential patient referrals, such as:

  • Professional materials that highlight the salient points of the protocol
    • Colleague presentation
    • Networking card
    • Recruitment brochure
    • Referral letter
  • Patient materials that further explain the clinical trial
    • Recruitment brochure
    • Invitation to trial letter
    • Poster or flyer

Clarity and brevity are effective communication techniques to use with busy physicians. Using these principles to develop appropriate referral and recruitment materials will help engage the physician and foster success for your clinical trial.

This is the third blog post in our writing series. Make sure to read our first two blog posts, 4 Tips for Writing for Patients in Clinical Trials and Writing by Committee: Getting Everyone on the Same Page

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