Top 10 Patient Recruitment & Retention Practices to Incorporate Across Study Teams


3 years 1 month ago

It’s no secret that successful enrollment is dependent on a well-planned strategy. However, minimizing hurdles to patient recruitment is also largely dependent on simple operational practices that can often be overlooked by busy teams.

Through our experience as patient recruitment specialists, we have seen the benefit of approaching recruitment and retention from the perspective of other functional areas in order to positively impact enrollment.

You can combat controllable challenges by taking the time to incorporate these simple practices:

Site Identification

  1. Use electronic Site Surveys to record the extent of patient recruitment experience and preferences at each site. Understanding a site’s PR experience, expectations and marketing infrastructure will only help the CRA and PR teams better support their needs.
  2. Request site-specific enrollment projections and plans to develop a comprehensive recruitment plan. Many times, teams work to an average enrollment rate; however, some sites will require more outreach support than others – account for these variables early on.

Study Start Up

  1. Define realistic timelines for patient recruitment initiative development and share with all stakeholders to ensure they align with other functional deliverables.
  2. Document individual site processes and local IRB review models to better streamline IRB submissions – create a standard to submit the recruitment and retention collateral with the sites regulatory packet. Understand that IRBs price differently for review of patient recruitment materials which can affect study budgets.
  3. Include copies of Central IRB approvals with local submissions; at times this can facilitate swifter review.
  4. Align recruitment and retention material fulfillment with SIVs to ensure sites’ readiness for recruitment. Allow the CRA to present the materials to the site and assist in distribution and posting.


  1. Utilize a Recruitment Tips Sheet for CRAs and sites to reference when facing study-related challenges. All studies have unique challenges; make sure to give the site a head-start on overcoming barriers. This can also be used to allow CRAs and sites record recruitment progress between monitoring visits in more detail.
  2. Hold a Study Coordinator Webinar during the enrollment period to exchange successes and brainstorm solutions to recruitment challenges.

Project Management

  1. Distinguish one point of communication at each site that is specifically for recruitment & retention information – many times it differs from the study coordinator.
  2. Communicate enrollment projections and results from recruitment efforts often with the entire study team. Everyone deserves to know the fruit of their efforts and it usually stimulates enrollment for those that are lacking patient numbers!

Bring your study one step closer to meeting or exceeding your timeline and goals by approaching recruitment and retention from the perspective that the pace of enrollment is impacted by all components of a study team.

The picture of clinical trial enrollment is not complete without a patient in the center. The next topic we will explore on the blog is the importance of patient perspectives – stay tuned!

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