Patient Recruitment and Enrollment in Clinical Trials

Meghan Hosely
October 29th, 2019

For many clinical research staff members, recruiting participants for a study poses a challenge – sometimes a bigger challenge than conducting the actual trial itself. Delays in recruiting participants will by default extend the study’s timeline, ultimately delaying the treatment’s arrival to the market at the end of the trial.

The infographic below outlines how the public learns about clinical trials, why they participate and enrollment challenges trials pose.

Patient Recruitment Enrollment Clinical Trials Infographic

Text Version

How do people learn about clinical trials?

The breakdown of where participants come from1 includes 72% are already patients at the site and 28% are new patients.

The public’s top five sources for clinical research information2 include:

  • 58% primary care physicians
  • 40% online clinical trial registries
  • 30% search engines
  • 19% nurse at primary care
  • 19% pharmaceutical companies

What are some reasons people participate in clinical trials?

The top perceived benefits3 are:

  • 26% to advance medicine
  • 36% to help improve the lives of others
  • 15% to help improve their condition
  • 8% represents the best treatment option
  • 5% monetary compensation

The importance of factors when choosing to participate in a study4 are:

  • 60% physical location of the study center
  • 63% protection of confidentiality
  • 73% types of procedures
  • 75% purpose of the study
  • 83% potential risks and benefits

What are some common enrollment challenges?5

48% of site under-enroll study volunteers while 11% of sites are failing to enroll a single patient. Nine out of 10 trials meet enrollment goals if original timelines are doubled. In terms of public’s interest in participating in studies, 70% hasn’t considered clinical trials as an option when discussing treatment with their doctor6 while 19% are not willing to participate in a clinical research study7 and 7% are unsure if they are interested in participation7.

The top perceived risks8 of participating in a study include:

  • 40% side effects
  • 33% risk to overall health
  • 7% receiving placebo
  • 7% stopping treatments providing benefits

In general, there is little awareness in the public. About 40% are not very confident they would find a clinical study right for them9 and close to 70% have never or rarely considered clinical studies as an option when discussing treatment with their doctor10. However, there is hope for enrollment rates to improve. 74% express interest in discussing clinical trial participation from an online peer community11 and 94% of volunteers would participate in a clinical trial study again12.


2., 6., 9.-11.
3., 7., 8.

Editor’s Note: This infographic was originally published on September 11, 2014.


15 thoughts on “Patient Recruitment and Enrollment in Clinical Trials

  1. Really neat infographic – please email more as you develop. Very informative in minimal pages/time

    1. Hi Moorthy,

      Thanks for the comment! Can you clarify what you mean by presentable format?


      1. Great infographic indeed. Think Moorthy might mean in a slide format or the like. The size of the graphic of a PPT slide makes it quite small. Would be really keen to use it in our efforts, with credit provided.

  2. Hi Kristina, very interesting and demonstrative! Am I allowed to use it in our newsletter for the investigators?

  3. Re:Infographic. It would make a great poster for promoting clinical trials at public forums. Can you covert it pdf at high enough resolution for poster size prints? (slides would be useful for our clinical staff and investigators). Many thanks and much Mahalo! (“Thank You” in Hawaiian)

  4. Hi Kristina,

    This is a very interesting insight. May I know which markets/countries does this statistical data refer to?


    1. Hi Panha,

      Thanks for the comment! The data used in this infographic is obtained from the sources in the reference list (also below). Each statistic corresponds to one of the sources, as indicated by the number that appears in superscript. I know within each CISCRP study, there is a breakdown by region of survey respondents. I used the overall percentages, but you can see it broken down by the different demographics of respondents if you go to the links below.

      Hope that helps!


  5. Thank you for the well-structured infographic! Patient recruitment is a tough process, but it can be optimized in a variety of ways. Knowing your target patients, keeping trial volunteers well-informed about the latest updates about the clinical trial, using a user-friendly clinical trial management system are just some of the things which can facilitate the process of clinical trial recruitment. A few other very useful tips for optimization of patient recruitment are described in the following article:

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