Retention in Clinical Trials – Keeping Patients on Protocols

Kristina Lopienski
June 1st, 2015

It’s no secret that patient recruitment is a key factor in ensuring study success, but too often retention is overlooked. In reality, keeping patients on protocols from start to finish can be just as challenging as recruiting enough patients in the first place. Patient compliance and retention are critical to the success of clinical trials. There are serious consequences of dropouts – from costly delays to missing data that can compromise the results and integrity of a study.

Despite good intentions of finishing a study, many participants end up dropping out for a variety of reasons. While some dropouts are due to uncontrollable circumstances, others are preventable. Of course, subjects have the right to discontinue participation in research at any time. However, when high percentages of dropouts are considered normal, it’s clear that more can be done to prevent withdraws.

The infographic below looks at the average dropout rates, reasons why dropouts happen, and solutions for better patient retention.

Infographic -Retention in Clinical Trials – Keeping Patients on Protocols - Subject Retention

It’s clear there’s a need for more effective ways to keep patients on protocols. While some dropouts will always be inevitable, it’s crucial to prevent both study delays and missing study data for regulatory submissions. When possible, understanding why a participant chooses to discontinue a study is valuable information to obtain. Their feedback may provide insight into what changes can be implemented to improve the patient experience.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to retaining patients? Share your thoughts below.

For tips on enrollment planning, determining trial feasibility and more, download the free eBook, “Patient Recruitment in Clinical Trials: Steps to Develop a Successful Enrollment Strategy

Update (5/6/2019): This infographic has been updated to remove a stat referring to the average dropout rate for trials across the clinical research industry.



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