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Participant Retention

When conducting clinical trials, retaining participants remains one of the greatest concerns for both clinical research sites and sponsors. Research participants are the foundation of research. They are the reason the trial was created and the means by which the trial can be manifested. It is no surprise, then, that when evaluating clinical research sites for trial feasibility, confirming proper plans and procedures for participant retention is included.

In a systematic review investigating optimal recruitment and retention strategies for clinical trials, it was determined that patient-centered trial design and execution were essential to accomplishing greater retention and engagement of clinical trial participants. When performed successfully, this type of approach leads to the following:

  1. Increased recruitment and retention
  2. Greater satisfaction in trial participants
  3. Facilitates increased trial representation
  4. Creates more solutions to meet participants’ needs

It is proposed that decreasing various study demands to accommodate legitimate time commitment concerns, providing a more comprehendible and evaluable informed consent process, building exceptional rapport with the study staff, and creating a sense of pride and meaning in research participation are crucial to ensure longevity and engagement in clinical trials (Dobra et al., 2023). Each of these solutions comes from increased communication with the participants prior to and during clinical trial engagement. Therefore, it is no surprise that increasing communication between researchers and participants is the most effective solution to address the loss of patient involvement (Forbes Shepherd et al., 2023; Vasu et al., 2023).

In conclusion, there is a great deal of data to support the notion that research participants want to play a part in something meaningful, and it is therefore up to the research staff to communicate this meaning to them. There is simply no room for assumption when generating a common goal and sense of purpose. Having clear expectations, humanistic compassion, and effective communication are required to build a relationship and execute excellent clinical research.



Dobra, R., Wilson, G., Matthews, J., Boeri, M., Elborn, S., Kee, F., Davies, J. C., & Madge, S. (2023). A systematic review to identify and collate factors influencing patient journeys through clinical trials. JRSM Open, 14(6), 205427042311666.


Forbes Shepherd, R., Bradford, A., Lieschke, M., Shackleton, K., & Hyatt, A. (2023). Patient communication and experiences in cancer clinical drug trials: A mixed-method study at a specialist clinical trials unit. Trials, 24(1), 400.


Vasu, S., Holtan, S. G., Shimamura, A., Burnworth, T., Whisenton, S., Adams, S., Nuechterlein, B., Mortier, N., Foster, J., DiFronzo, N., Horowitz, M., Rizzo, D., & Foley, A. (2023). Bringing Patient and Caregivers Voices to the Clinical Trial Chorus: A Report From the BMT CTN Patient and Caregiver Advocacy Task Force. Transplantation and Cellular Therapy, 29(1), 5–9.

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