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Home » Patient care » How to boost clinical trial access and make patients health-empowered

Stacey Davidson

Content Strategist, Cuttsy+Cuttsy

Clinical research is becoming more patient-centric, but there’s still more that needs to be done to make clinical trials available to everyone. This could include wider participation.

Clinical research is increasingly being recognised as a viable care option, improving health outcomes while accelerating clinical research. Yet, as few as 3% of eligible patients sign up. 

How to increase patient participation

Pharmaceutical companies are working on overturning this statistic by designing and building trials that centre around participant needs. This includes greater patient involvement in trial design; more opportunities for treatment at home; fewer tests and assessments; and new technologies for support and monitoring.  

However, it seems clinical trial participation is not for everyone. Could it be because a huge amount of trust, awareness and understanding is needed to become a clinical trial participant?  

Where the ‘activated’ patient comes in 

According to health researcher Judith Hibbard, activated patients, who are actively engaged in managing their health and advocating for themselves, are better equipped to handle health conditions and contribute to treatment decisions. 

Although, it’s not always an equal starting point because not everyone will be at activated status. Because initiatives often engage with those who are already activated and have high levels of health literacy, the complexity of clinical trial information means that some patients defer decision-making to their doctors. It may not be on purpose, but this excludes many from potentially life-changing medicines.  

The complexity of clinical trial
information means that some patients
defer decision-making to their doctors.

Empower patients through clinical trials

This may be an opportunity for those in charge of clinical trials to take a leading role in helping patients to become activated, creating a push-pull that works in all directions. Consider clinical trial education and awareness resources developed with everyone in mind, helping to bridge the knowledge gap and supporting people to make informed decisions for their own health.

Shift towards community-inclusive trials

The industry is already beginning to shift towards more patient-centred clinical trial recruitment and providing trial information that speaks to all — but that’s just the start. Perhaps it’s time to bring whole communities into contact with the clinical research world instead, giving everyone an opportunity to share their opinions and ideas — a chance to feel part of something bigger. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it.  

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