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What Stops People Joining Clinical Trials?

Recruiting patients has proven to be a struggle for many trials, with 15-20% of sites being unable to recruit even 1 patient (Lo, 2014). In this situation, it is important to consider which factors are preventing people from joining clinical trials. So, here are 5 factors that stop people from joining clinical trials.

1. Lack of trust

Unfortunately, many people do not trust pharma companies, as they are thought to only care about profits, and it is therefore thought that some researchers have the wrong motivations. Moreover, as with any industry, the bad experiences spread much further and quicker than the successes. Due to this, some may have heard of the bad experiences of past participants, which can discourage them to participate (Fuller, 2015). To counteract this, it is important for sites to effectively communicate the successes of clinical trials and how they have helped past patients.

2. Misconceptions about participation

There is often a misconception where people think that, by taking part in a clinical trial, they are a science experiment or guinea pig. They think they will just be a number to the site, and will not actually be cared for (Fuller, 2015). Therefore, sites should adopt a patient centric approach where the patient is put first. This can be done my clearly communicating the aims/procedures of the trial and ensuring that staff are always available to help the patient.

3. Lack of awareness

Sites often struggle to recruit patients simply because people are not aware of clinical trials. Clinical trials are not the topic of conversation for many, with 50% of people in America not being aware of them at all (Miseta, 2017). When it comes to medical advice, people trust, and take their doctors advice. Therefore, if doctors speak about, or recommend trials to patients, there will likely be higher recruitment. However, only 22% of patients report having discussed clinical trials with their doctors in the US (Forte, 2014). To make people more aware of clinical trials, particularly ones which apply to their condition, sites should work towards creating stronger relationships with doctors, and ensure that specialists in the indication being studied are aware of the trial's existence.

4. Inconvenience

If the site is located far away from potential patients, it can discourage them to participate due to travel time and costs. Moreover, the schedule/timing of the trial may interfere with the patients other commitments, which can be inconvenient, and therefore discourage them from participating (Fuller, 2015). Through research, it should be determined how far people are willing to travel, and if this willingness increases if people are compensated for their travel time.

5. Fear

Due to the lack of information around clinical trials as a whole, people do not know what participation involves, and many are simply scared of the unknown. People may not know what they are expected to do in trials, or who conducts the trials, which can make them hesitant to participate (Forte, 2014). To overcome this, sites should raise more awareness of themselves through doctors and media platforms where they can directly communicate with potential patients.

How can Citruslabs help?

At Citruslabs, we use technology and data-driven recruitment to deliver you pre-screened, local candidates for your clinical trial. We own & operate the leading health-app network that provides us with a large, diverse and highly engaged user base of patients with a range of health conditions. We educate our users about clinical research, enable them to opt-in to participate and then pre-screen them against your study criteria, in order to deliver you eligible, consenting and highly-motivated patients via our state-of-the-art online patient recruitment dashboard.


Fuller, F. (2015). Imperial Blog. [online] Imperial Blog. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

Forte (2014). Why Do Some Patients Enroll in Clinical Trials and Others Don’t? [online] Forte. Available at: [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

Lo, C. (2014). The numbers game: boosting clinical trial enrolment. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2019].

Miseta, E. (2017). Survey 50% Of Americans Not Aware Of Clinical Trials. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2019].

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