How to Combat Barriers to Enrollment in Clinical Trials

How to Combat Barriers to Enrollment in Clinical Trials

A widespread challenge within the clinical trials industry is the recruitment, enrollment and retention of patients. This is largely due to the multiple types of barriers that prevent patients from enrolling in a study - these barriers need to be overcome through innovative and patient-centric approaches. Financial barriers include having to pay for certain routine care costs such as copayments, coinsurance, or deductibles, time away from work for clinical visits and travel to the clinical trial site, and having to pay for lodging, meals, childcare, and transportation required for clinical trial participation. Patients often feel concerned about potential adverse reactions to the investigational agent, which may lead to unpredictable healthcare expenses. On top of these barriers is the stress that comes along with trying to find a clinical trial that fits a patient's needs while deciphering the medical jargon that describes the study on sites like One way to improve recruitment and retention in clinical trials and mitigate these already abundant stressors is to make the information about the trials more readily available, easier to understand, and to provide clear instructions on next steps. 

Clinical trial listings are most effectively understood by patients when the trial information is presented in a simple and easily digestible way. Here at, we have amassed patient engagement data on over 50,000 clinical trials that we have listed on our website in the past 20 years. Below are a few tips on how to make your own study listings more engaging and understandable, which will yield improved patient recruitment and retention rates:

  • Display the information about the trial using bulleted lists instead of paragraphs of text to make the information look clean, organized, and overall, feel less overwhelming. Bulleted lists also greatly aid comprehension and reduce the likelihood of a potential study participant missing key details.
  • Be clear about how the trial will be conducted and what will be expected of the study participant. Include key details such as:
    1. number and location of office visits
    2. duration of the trial
    3. what procedures will be involved
    4. information about compensation for time and travel
    5. easily understood inclusion/exclusion criteria
    6. any other information you think a patient would want to know before they indicate that they are interested in participating in the trial.

  • Replace terms like "...randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, Phase 2 study, evaluating the efficacy and safety of the investigational medication..." with wording such as "...clinical research study of an investigational medication for..." to aid understanding.
  • Integrating inclusive and relevant images into your study posting increases engagement and improves the likelihood that patients will seek to participate. Make sure to have "alt tags" and "alt descriptions" in the code for these images so that people with screen readers can also get the information contained within the images. This is important for maintaining compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 
  • Include a map of your site location and directions on how to get to the site for office visits. 
  • Provide a clear call-to-action. Let patients know exactly what they should do if they are interested in learning more about the study. 
  • IRB-approved materials are always preferred when listing trials online if they meet the criteria listed above but not always necessary. The FDA has mandated that as long as only general information regarding the study (study name, summary, inclusion/exclusion criteria, and clinic contact information) is posted online it does not need to be IRB-approved. If you choose to post risk and/or benefit information regarding participation in the clinical trial then IRB approval is necessary.

By removing the guesswork, uneasiness, and fear that may come with trying to understand what exactly a patient must do to be a part of a trial, patients can have a more stress-free experience while looking for clinical trial opportunities. This way, patients are making an informed decision and can evaluate if they are able to commit to the entirety of the trial before they begin the screening process. When patients feel informed and educated about their opportunities to participate in clinical trials, they can enroll in a trial with little to no hesitation, allowing you to make patient recruitment more efficient.

We hope this information is helpful for you as you list your clinical trials online. If you have additional questions or would like for us to help you optimize your clinical trial listings, please create an investigator account and post your first clinical trial at By posting your trials with us, you can easily and quickly inform patients of everything they need to know about your clinical trial in a patient-centered and easy-to-understand way. Each clinical trial listed on is reviewed by our trained staff to optimize patient engagement and recruitment results – create your account today!


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