Printed Clinical Trial Materials: Planning for Investigator Meetings & Study Startup

by Kirsten Friend

When planning to launch a new clinical study, many decisions are needed. Some of those decisions surround clinical trial materials planning as part of patient recruitment and retention plans, and site study reference and referral tools. Once the plans are in place, they are often previewed at one or more investigator meetings.

Print and Digital Statistics to Keep in Mind During Clinical Study Materials Planning

When recruiting patients, the goal is similar to an advertising campaign: to inform, persuade, and remind. While many materials are moving to a digital format, print materials still hold some advantages over digital ones. FinanceOnline pulled together statistics of print versus digital marketing campaigns. These statistics are important to keep in mind when planning your clinical study recruitment campaign:

  • 82% of consumers trust print ads the most when making a decision
  • Print ads require 21% less cognitive effort to process
  • Combining print and digital ads makes online campaigns 400% more effective
  • 77% of consumers say printed materials drive higher levels of recall

An article at demonstrates that print is easier to comprehend than digital text. Secondly, digital sources are fine to scan news headings for main ideas, but when reading longer, more complicated text, details are better retained when reading in print.

Patient-facing Clinical Trial Materials Planning

When making decisions on patient materials, it’s essential to remember that planning a proactive approach to clinical trial recruitment and retention saves time and money. Rescue plans take weeks to implement, costing valuable time, and culminating in increased expenses and delays in obtaining approval.

Consider these print advantages when planning patient materials:

  • There are no bandwidth problems, passwords, PC system requirements, or international electric outlet concerns with print materials.
  • Print stands out – it captures the eye of a passerby, and a quality printed piece has a tactile presence.
  • A QR code or web address placed on printed clinical trial recruitment materials leads potential participants to further information, taking advantage of both paper and digital strengths. Remember, combining print and digital ads makes online campaigns 400% more effective.
  • It is impactful to hand a document to someone as part of the clinical trial education process. The statistics I mentioned above tell us that print materials are:
        • Easier to comprehend
        • Details are better retained
        • More trusted

Professional-facing Clinical Study Materials Planning

Sites are short-staffed and today’s clinical studies are more complex than ever, so remember site tools when planning your study materials. At a recent investigator meeting, site staff approached me after presenting patient recruitment materials, hoping we also had pocket protocols, informed consent pocket cards, and laminated study procedure guides on key rings.

These materials are easy for site personnel to carry and refer to, which promotes protocol adherence. The sponsor said several sites had approached them as well, and they would like us to provide those additional materials.

Printed Materials for Investigator Meetings

Keeping in mind that print is easier to comprehend than digital text, and that print is more memorable, it’s a good idea to provide at least some key study documents in print format at your investigator meeting.

A reveal of the developed study materials gives PIs and coordinators a chance to understand the goals and end-use of the materials. This also allows for dialog if the site teams feel critical materials are missing and would be helpful for recruitment, retention, and/or protocol adherence.

A smaller version of the protocol can be a perfect spot for the meeting participants to take notes and stay engaged during the protocol review. This also allows later reference to those notes directly in the protocol.

An investigator meeting often occurs before IRB and EC approvals of the study materials. However, watermarks stating SAMPLE or NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION allows investigators to review and understand the materials they can soon expect on site. Imperial has attended and presented at a variety of meetings. We have managed the collection and return of these samples, ensuring their use at the meeting only.

Never Underestimate the Power of Printed Thank You Notes 

Send thank you notes a few days after the investigator meeting to keep the connection and conversation going and allow participants additional opportunities to share recommendations and ideas. Thank you notes sent during the study also offer positive reinforcement for achieving study milestones.

For study participants, thank you cards branded with the study name or protocol number reinforce the study team and sponsor’s appreciation. They remind participants that they are more than data and are great to send at the end of study milestones and when study participation has ended.


Print materials are more memorable, impactful, and have sensory appeal. Digital materials are widely available with instant access and can be targeted to certain populations. They also have video and audio capabilities. Remember when planning your clinical trial materials to incorporate the best of both media types to appeal to potential participants in the most impactful way.

The Imperial Advantage

Imperial is a best-in-class clinical print provider with locations in the U.S. and U.K. We provide production flexibility in support of your preferences and needs with full print, bindery, and finishing departments. Our proprietary online customer portal allows you to decide when and where to send your items, and our logistics expertise spans the globe.

Get premier printing and quality processes tailored to your trial, plus unsurpassed end-to-end support. From award-winning design and content creation, layout, and translation services, to print and digital production, kitting, warehousing, and global logistics, our materials development is all-encompassing. Having one vendor providing multiple services allows tremendous control, consistency, and transparency in the flow of work and promotes efficiencies resulting in superior quality, timelines, and cost. We take care of it, so you don’t have to.

Imperial is an eco-friendly company and has a paper recycling program, plus we recycle 500+ pounds of toner cartridges every six weeks. We’ll work with you to develop and implement eco-friendly strategies that are right for your study to reduce environmental impact.

Whether your study needs printing alone or our other best-in-class support services, our subject matter experts are here to help. Contact us during your clinical trial materials planning process for more information.

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