Journal of Molecular Biomarkers and Clinical Trials

Impediments to Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials

Published on: 2018-08-10


Recruiting patients into randomized clinical trials (RCTs) remains a serious challenge that may compromise evidence-based medicine’s ability to study treatments. In this narrative review, four main domains affecting recruitment were identified: factors related to the RCT, clinician-related factors, patient-related factors, and influences from the community. Some obstacles to recruitment appear relatively easy to resolve: logistical considerations (for example, studies that pay for the patient’s parking or other expenses), translated forms for non-native speakers, and preparation to deal with particular patient populations (such as pediatric patients or the disabled). Other obstacles relate to deep-seated individual attitudes about research (altruism versus personal safety) and distrust about the medical community and medical organizations. Suboptimal clinical organization and inadequate teamwork among colleagues can also impede recruitment efforts. In some cases, studies may be designed upfront to better accommodate the needs of the prospective patient population, particularly if special populations are involved, and researchers should take into account how attractive their RCT is to the targeted patient population


Clinical study; Clinical trial; Patient enrollment; Patient recruitment; Randomized controlled trial