Asking Why Bolsters Clinical Trial Communication and Success

by Hope Cullen

Explore the importance of providing context for decisions in clinical trials to foster improved communication, trust, and success.

“Why” seems to be at the center of what we do. Kids are always asking, “Why, Mom?” Lean Fundamentals teaches us the 5 Whys, and Simon Sinek tells us that our “Why” is the reason we make important decisions.

In clinical trials, the question of “why” is central to evaluating the efficacy of treatments. Researchers ask why a particular drug or therapy works or doesn’t work for a specific condition. This analysis enables:

  • The refinement of treatment approaches
  • The development of personalized medicine
  • The identification of patient subgroups that may benefit the most

Also, in recent years, patient-centered research has gained prominence, emphasizing the importance of asking “why” from the patient’s perspective. By understanding why patients make certain health care decisions and why they experience specific outcomes, researchers can tailor interventions and support services to meet the unique needs of individuals and inspire insightful clinical trial communications.

I had the privilege of attending the Operational Excellence in Clinical Trials (OECT) Summit in Toronto, Canada. Amongst all the amazing presentations and panels, one thing stood out: We perform better as individuals and in teams when we know “why.”

Inspire Trust in Clinical Trial Communications

The recurring theme, across presentations and discussions by representatives from CROs, sites, and sponsors, was the importance of being transparent with each other and explaining the context (the “why”) behind decisions. Clinical trials are not linear. They are a series of do-loops that eventually get to the end, but not without a lot of circling back and making new decisions based on the evaluation of events as they transpire. These circles can take a toll – they can be demotivating and frustrating even though we expect them to occur. The best way to mitigate negative effects is to explain “why.”

Context inspires trust in clinical trial communications. Explaining why we are doing something allows the action holders to have buy-in to the process of doing (or re-doing) activities that seem less than valuable on their surface. “Why” bridges gaps and fosters empathy.  By asking why someone is behaving in a certain way, we delve into their motivations and perspectives. This deeper understanding leads naturally to better clinical trial communications.

One of the conference presenters, Rahul Kukreja, project director at Precision for Medicine, told us, “Everyone has a story—tell them the story.” Yes! Share the “why.” If we take the time to understand the “why” behind what we are doing, it might just lead to a deeper understanding and greater satisfaction in the accomplishments within a clinical trial.

Positively Impact Lives

The significance of “why” resonates with me for inter-company and clinical trial communications and life. Here at Imperial, our  6 core values are driven by our company’s “why” to positively impact lives. This includes the lives of everyone we work with: customers, patients, suppliers, team members, and communities. All of us involved in research and health care share a tremendous opportunity to positively impact lives across the globe. That is a profound “why.”

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