Social Media - the challenge for patient recruitment

Social media can be a great tool for disseminating information about medical trials, as well as for aiding in patient recruitment to clinical research. However, it’s vital that clinical research institutes refrain from relying entirely on social media for patient recruitment, as tempting as it may be given the impression that most researchers have of social media as a time-saving tool. Implementing other strategies, such as health app networks like MindMate can target recruits on a deeper level, by matching potential participants with appropriate trials through their reported demographic, behavioral, and medical information. These patient connections are less superficial than the ones made through social media alone, and can yield higher retention and engagement rates.


While it’s certainly true that social networks can aid researchers in reaching a broader audience more quickly, without a properly organized research facilitator to go along with it recruitment can actually take longer. When recruiting solely through social networks, matters of security and variability become all the more important, and the added double-checking can ultimately hinder the research process, hence the need for multiple streams of recruitment.


Further, recent studies have shown that social media recruitment can have lower clinical trial retention rates and lower patient engagement.


Social Media campaigns have shown effectiveness in recruiting for non-therapeutic clinical studies, however less evidence is available for therapeutic trials. Physicians who conduct therapeutic trials, particularly in cancer research, have found certain barriers in social media recruitment. The limitations of patient recruitment on social media can include difficulties in collecting a representative sample, security and confidentiality concerns, and discrepancies in self-reported information.


Although social media can reduce the time invested in patient recruitment and engagement and be a great supplemental tool, there are several drawbacks to relying on it entirely. First, it can be more difficult to ensure a representative sample is collected, given that the predominant demographics of social media users may not align with the goals of clinical research trials -- particularly in studies looking at rarer conditions.


Further, like with any recruitment method, there can be discrepancies in self-reported health information and actual medical records in social media recruitment. As such, there’s added cross-checking required in social media recruitment to compare patient-reports with their medical data.


These issues can best be addressed through the use of diverse recruitment strategies in conjunction with social media to recruit patients to clinical research trials.


Using proven methods such as the Citrus platform to recruit patients to clinical trials helps researchers to maximize the value of their recruitment budget, ensures the effectiveness of their studies, and ultimately saves time with built-in patient verifiability.



How can Citruslabs help?


Citrus is a fully integrated recruitment and retention software that fits any clinical trial and simplifies the implementation of patient engagement in your clinical trial. Whether you are already working with CTMS systems or not, Citrus is the perfect add-on to make patient interaction effective.


Since 2015, our team has been hard at work raising awareness of clinical trials across the globe. A Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ company and a graduate of the renowned Techstar program in New York, Citruslabs is at the forefront of patient recruitment and retention technologies. With over 3 million patients now recorded on our databases, our patient recruitment dashboard is fast becoming the most efficient method of trial recruitment.

Now a #1 health app in 17 countries, our Mindmate app is helping to revolutionize the way we think about healthcare. Mindmate “[takes] senior care into the digital age” (Forbes, 2018) by providing people with cognitive decline the essential tools to help them rebuild and maintain strong mental health. Trusted by millions of users, our health community continues to grow as the content available expands to the needs of individuals today.

With more than 200 research sites now using the Citrus platform to screen thousands of patients every month, researchers are now well on their way to finding new treatments for hundreds of different health conditions - something that just would not be possible without a technological solution. Make sure that your clinical trial is in the lucky 12% and turn that luck into guaranteed results with Citrus.


Still a little unsure? Check out what our customers have to say about us here.


And If you’d like to know more about how Citruslabs can help you recruit more effectively, get in touch with our team here.