Leveraging Participant-Centric Approaches to Optimize Retention Rates in Clinical Trials

Leveraging Participant-Centric Approaches to Optimize Retention Rates in Clinical Trials: Amplifying Appreciation


As the world continues to grapple with the lingering effects of a global health crisis, the importance of clinical trials in combating diseases and improving human health is ever more apparent. The pandemic ushered in a paradigm shift, driving an increase in decentralized trials that leverage digital technologies for remote patient engagement. However, despite the convenience these trials bring to participants, biopharma companies and contract research organizations (CROs) continue to face significant challenges in maintaining participant retention. Amplifying appreciation for patients in clinical trials is key.

A recent article in FiercePharma encapsulates the core challenges associated with the design of these trials: “Digital technologies designed to support clinical trial management have evolved greatly over the years, spurred by increasing complexity in study design, emerging technologies in specific therapeutic areas, and a list of subtly different global regulations. Yet many eClinical technologies have remained unoptimized for user experience.” (1)

From this perspective, it becomes clear that the success of participant retention hinges on creating patient-centric digital ecosystems that prioritize user experience. Accommodating the patient’s comfort, convenience, and ease of use within a clinical trial context remains a pivotal task that demands innovative solutions.

Technology alone does not ensure retention. There is a need for a robust plan that fosters effective and timely communication between all stakeholders. According to an article from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “A proper recruitment and retention plan incorporating adequate communication between all stakeholders will eventually avoid the delays in drug development and make treatments available to the consumer at an earlier date and at a more affordable price. Awareness of challenges and reviewing strategies that can optimize recruitment and retention will facilitate drug development.” (2)

The NIH also identifies three key elements for a successful patient retention strategy: treating participants with respect, being considerate of the participants’ time, and swiftly identifying and overcoming retention challenges. (3)

Clinical trial retention begins once the trial’s enrollment numbers are met — the next goal is to ensure patient engagement and compliance through regular communication and check-ins. These strategic, patient-centric initiatives are paramount to enhancing trial outcomes and accelerating drug development timelines.

Greater Gift (www.greatergift.org) offers a supportive approach to bolster participants’ continued investment in clinical trials. As a nonprofit organization, Greater Gift aims to help advance global health by highlighting the heroes who contribute to medical progress — the clinical trial participants.

Greater Gift’s Celebration and Gratitude program recognizes and celebrates participants, reaffirming their essential contribution to healthcare advancement. The certificate serves not just as a token of acknowledgment, but it is also a reminder that the participants’ commitment to the trials directly contributes to shaping the future of medicine, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. They can also be customized to recognize research staff and other important members of the clinical research team.

When sponsors and CROs present these certificates to trial participants, they amplify one of the key principles of effective participant retention: treating participants with respect. With a set contribution per person being recognized, Greater Gift coordinates the donation in their honor either to Feeding America or Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

By embracing participant-centric strategies, biopharma companies and CROs can navigate the complexities of participant retention more effectively, leading to more successful, efficient, and impactful trials. An investment in the patient experience and good communication, supported by meaningful recognition of participation, will support success in participant retention and potentially expedite the journey to new medical breakthroughs. Together, we can continue to make strides in clinical trials and towards the ultimate goal of improving global health.

To learn more about the Celebration and Gratitude program, contact Joan Chambers, CEO, Greater Gift at jchambers@greatergift.org



(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7342338/

(3) https://acrpnet.org/2023/04/a-primer-on-the-importance-of-recruitment-and-retention-in-clinical-trials/


Authored by: Melissa Daley, Chief Marketing Officer, ChitChatDigital LLC