ROCHESTER, NY: More people are aware of opportunities to participate in clinical trials, but participation rates have stayed steady, according to a study by market-research and consulting firm Harris Interactive.
The findings also show that out of a number of information sources, doctors have the most influence in convincing patients to join a trial - and, therefore, should be considered key partners for pharmaceutical companies and their PR teams.
"As pharmaceutical companies try harder to get more positive attention to the benefits and importance of clinical research studies, which could get more physicians and patients involved, public relations could certainly play a role in helping them communicate the necessary messages," said Jill Guary, director of clinical research at Harris Interactive.
Guary noted that an increased number of television advertisements, radio spots, and internet listings of clinical trials contributed to the increase in awareness.
Among people who'd participated in clinical trials, 41% had based their decision to do so on what they read, saw, or heard, compared with 36% last year.
The study also found that 44% of respondents listed the media as their primary source of information.
But misperceptions about clinical research trials still linger, Guary noted.
"People think they have to be sick to participate in a clinical research study," she said. "Unless they are sick and are provided with the opportunity, they do not necessarily consider participating."
In total, 19% of 5,822 adults surveyed noted that they had had an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial, but only 11% had actually done so.
The statistics represent a 3% gain in awareness and a modest 1% gain in participation.