Reclaiming the Power of Paper for Clinical Trial Materials

by Hope Cullen

We live in a digital world.  Need directions? Use your phone app. Looking for your bank balance? Simply open your mobile banking app and log in. Want to read a book? Just download it!

Paper printed materials are becoming a thing of the past. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I do think that with the reduced use of printed paper products, wise use of them becomes even more powerful.

Remember the days when you were inundated with junk in your mailbox?  (I mean your physical mailbox – remember, that box posted up at the end of your driveway?) Loads of junk mail used to go straight to the trash bin.  Now we will go 2 or 3 days without any delivery at all.  So when we do receive an advertisement, we actually look at it instead of just throwing it away.  Printed materials are no longer our primary medium, so when they are used, by default they garner more attention.

Plus, there is the added perception that the written word is the law. When something is in print, it is taken as fact. We all know that anyone can make a contribution on the internet. Much of what we read online is only cautiously accepted. On the other hand, it takes time and effort to put something into print, and human nature is to believe the printed word.

Why do we care? Because in the clinical trial space, powerful printed materials can influence investigators and patients, enhancing recruitment, retention, and study execution.  A patient mailer is no longer mixed among the junk, but is more likely to be read.  A printed educational guide will have more credibility than conflicting information read online.  There are a multitude of ways that strategically using printed materials can make the clinical trial more effective, capitalizing on the power of paper.

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