During these unprecedented times, participant recruitment in clinical trials was brought to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions, shelter in place orders, site closures, and limitations on medical supply equipment led to difficulties in completing ongoing research studies and halted new research studies. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration further restricted participant recruitment in March after it released its guidelines.
So what could researchers do during a pandemic? It turns out quite a bit can be done remotely via technology platforms. Online advertising, digital surveys, video conferencing, and phone interviews could be conducted to collect and screen participants during the initial recruitment,and could process potential participants quickly and more effectively than in person visits. During this crisis, where self-isolation and quarantines were mandated, people replaced physical connections with virtual platforms to connect and impact change through participation in research studies. Reaching out to participants through these mediums assists researcher’s and gives participants an opportunity to contribute to the research community.
With more people connecting online, a wider population became available in nearby or remote areas. Finding a variety of people with different ethnicities, backgrounds, and rare conditions became easier through digital engagement. Especially since a vast majority of people spent more time then ever using computers, phones, and tablets to connect with the outside world. In addition, people were also more available to e-meet with a researcher, get on a phone call to answer questions, and share the study with friends and family. By using online participant recruitment methods, a diverse audience became available with a multitude of characteristics for researchers to connect with and recruit.
Undoubtedly, COVID-19 created an extreme disruption to participant recruitment and the research development process. However, we found alternative ways to leverage current technology, target a larger, more diverse participant data pool, and explore new methods to recruit during a global pandemic. The changes that were made to participant recruitment strategies now will most certainly impact the effectiveness and efficacy of clinical participant recruitment in the post-pandemic environment.
Research And Me’s online tools helps Researchers continue recruiting during these times of social distancing and stay at home restrictions. We will continue to advertise your study to our database, post on social media platforms, and create customized recruitment plans, when you list your study with us!
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