The important role of caregivers in recruitment and retention.

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, patients are the key to any clinical trial. After all, they’re the ones who try the investigational medication or experimental therapy, so it makes sense to focus on them when considering recruitment and retention tactics. But is it really that straightforward? Directing all attention to patients alone potentially misses connecting with a crucial audience – caregivers.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, a caregiver can be defined as “an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.” The extent of support a caregiver provides can depend on a variety of factors, such as the patient’s age and condition. But no matter the level of assistance a caregiver provides, what they do for the patient in their everyday life is invaluable.

And their importance doesn’t stop there. Caregivers also play a critical role in clinical trial participation. In fact, for many potential patients, whether they take part in a trial depends solely on their caregiver. So, to help you maximize participation, we’ve gathered a few reasons why caregivers should be one of your target audiences when developing recruitment and retention strategies.

Caregivers can be the first step in connecting a patient to a trial.

From social media to blog posts, caregivers are online and actively looking for information on their loved one’s condition and better ways to support them. You need to know where caregivers are looking so you can make sure information about your clinical trial can be found there too.

You should also consider developing recruitment materials that specifically target the caregiver. Let them know right from the start that they’re an important part of the trial and that their comfort, along with the patient’s, is top of mind.

Caregivers know the patient best and can help with communication throughout the study.

There are many clinical trial participants, such as pediatric patients who are too young to make health-related decisions or those with cognitive impairments, who rely on a caregiver to help them fully understand what’s happening as they progress through each step of the study. This is because a caregiver often knows the best way to communicate with the patient. That’s why the study team must remember to be transparent and keep the patient informed as well as the caregiver.

Caregivers can help ensure study compliance.

Clinical trials can be complex. There’s often a lot to keep up with, such as study visits, assessments, medication administration, and monitoring. Caregivers can help make sure that patients take the investigational medication at the proper time and record any side effects or adverse events they may experience. Additionally, caregivers are often the main form of transportation for patients. They’re essentially a safety net when it comes to making sure that study protocol is being followed.

Caregivers are often described as a major but underappreciated force behind healthcare. They’re the ones who coordinate care or make decisions for those who unfortunately cannot, yet they’re often a forgotten demographic when it comes to clinical trial enrollment efforts. It’s time to not only better engage with this audience to help patient recruitment, but also recognize them as the heroes they are.

Want to make sure that caregivers aren’t left out of the recruitment and retention strategy for your next clinical trial? Contact us today.

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