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Using Social Media for Dermatological Clinical Study Recruitment

Social media could be an effective and easy resource for recruiting participants for randomized controlled dermatology trials, according to a study recently published in Dermatology Times.

Recruiting appropriate participants for clinical trials is a struggle for researchers and pharmaceutical companies and sponsors alike. Trial organizers spend around 30 percent of total trial time looking for patients to participate, and only one-third of trials are able to recruit an adequate number of participants. Delays in patient recruitment can also increase expenses for pharmaceutical sponsors.

Since so much of the world regularly uses social media, certain platforms could be a simple solution for finding suitable participants for clinical studies. For their research, Bruce E. Katz, MD, director of Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York City, and his colleagues decided to use Studies&Me, a Danish site that helps connect potential patients to dermatological studies. After clicking an ad, patients are directed to a site with landing page with information about clinical trials and can fill out a pre-qualification form.

For their New York City-based study, over 15,000 people were directed to the landing page over the course of 150 days, and 1,500 signed up to be pre-screened for the study. The potential participants filled out a pre-screening questionnaire and submitted selfies of qualifying skin lesions. Applicable patients were called by a researcher, and 27 of those participants responded and 20 made appointments for screening visit.

Overall, the researchers found that social media recruitment was “fast and efficient.” However, the strategy lacks strong engagement tactics, as 30 out of the 46 patients in this study didn’t respond after being contacted, didn’t show up, or withdrew consent.

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