Success and failure factors of patient recruitment for industry-sponsored clinical trials and the role of the electronic health records—a qualitative interview study in the Nordic countries

Niina Laaksonen*, Mia Bengtström, Anna Axelin, Juuso Blomster, Mika Scheinin, Risto Huupponen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Patient recruitment for clinical trials is challenging—only approximately one third of all trials recruit their participants as planned. The pharmaceutical industry’s views on recruitment success have not been comprehensively investigated, although the industry globally conducts almost one third of all clinical drug trials. This study explored patient recruitment success and failure factors and the role of electronic health records (EHR) in the recruitment of trial participants in the Nordic countries. Methods: A descriptive qualitative interview study was conducted with 21 representatives of the pharmaceutical industry or contract research organizations operating in Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. The interviews covered 34 clinical pre-market drug trials. Qualitative data were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Results: Four main categories were derived to represent both success and failure factors, whereas a fifth category represented only failure factors: (1) sponsor-related (protocol and trial preparation and feasibility evaluations), (2) site/investigator-related (access to patients, motivation, commitment and resources), (3) patient-related recruitment factors (medical need, patients’ role in their care and attitudes towards trials), (4) Sponsor—sites—patients collaboration factors, and (5) start-up related factors. EHR was the most important source of recruitment, utilized in 29 out of 34 trials discussed. Revision of the legislation regulating the secondary use of EHR was highlighted as the most effective measure to facilitate the use of EHR in recruitment of trial participants. Conclusions: The industry representatives recognized quite well their own role in contributing to the success or failure of the recruitment: to facilitate recruitment of trial participants, many obstacles can be avoided with better trial preparation and proper feasibility evaluations. As access to patients represents one of the key success or failure factors of recruitment, and as the EHR is regarded the main source of searching for and finding patients, the development of EHR utilization appears to represent a powerful tool to improve patient recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number385
JournalTrials
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Clinical trials
  • Electronic health records
  • Failure
  • Interview
  • Nordic countries
  • Patient recruitment
  • Qualitative
  • Success factors

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