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Site Motivation: A Key to Study Success

by Hope Cullen

Motivating clinical research sites is one of the most overlooked factors in the pharmaceutical research industry. Even when sponsors and CROs do acknowledge the issue, they are often at a loss for workable solutions. This is precisely the reason Imperial offers site surveys, interviews, and study coordinator steering committees as part of our core patient engagement services.

Once a site list is final, Imperial will reach out to each site via email with a short, expertly crafted survey. An answer, and sometimes even the lack of an answer, will allow us to gauge site experience and motivation. The survey is a good precursor to a 10 to 15 minute site interview and a starting point for the study coordinator steering committee. Our steering committees are made up of approximately six chosen study coordinators that meet on a regular basis, often quarterly, depending on the length of the study.

In my experience, I have learned that the more difficult and time consuming the study is, the less motivated study coordinators are to make recruiting a priority. They are already pressed for time and resources. Staff motivation tends to increase when a site is provided with an individual dedicated to screening charts so the study coordinators can spend their time with the patients instead of sifting through charts. Study coordinators also like to see sponsors act in a patient-centric way, such as providing travel and reimbursement. Study coordinators themselves are often motivated by study-wide and internal competition, as it adds fun to the job as well as recognition. Snacks are always a welcomed sign of appreciation, too!

Being a voice on a steering committee empowers study coordinators to fuel the recruiting momentum and gain positive attention from the sponsor. We look for energetic and forthcoming personalities to join the committees. The ultimate goal is to share ideas, challenges, and solutions. Such topics cover navigating informed consent objections to implementing complicated assessments to properly collecting and shipping lab samples. 

The host of the steering committee has a definite purpose to extract not only the challenges but also the techniques used to maneuver and overcome the challenges. This is truly where the diamond in the rough lies. Many study coordinators don’t realize that their approach is spot-on brilliant and is too good to be kept under wraps. Imperial’s host is great at keeping the energetic discussions flowing and then sharing these fabulous techniques with all sites to positively impact the patient experience and the recruitment timeline.

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