Evaluating the Effectiveness of Third-Party Recruitment Campaigns in Small Site Management Organizations (SMOs)
Recruitment is often the most challenging aspect of a clinical trial. Finding the appropriate number of quality subjects takes time and may exhaust funds especially towards smaller site management organizations (SMOs). Standard recruitment strategies are often used such as physician referrals (patients given alternative treatments by being placing into clinical trials by their physicians) as well as database searches (extensive searches in patient networks by clinical researchers to find potential subjects). Both can be effective approaches but are often designed for larger research organizations with more available resources. One particular strategy, third-party recruitment, allows an outside company which specializes in marketing and recruitment to be assigned to finding potential subjects for clinical trials. This may reduce the burden of cost when allocating funds directly to this strategy rather than other recruitment strategies that may not work for smaller SMOs with limited resources and staff. Therefore, understanding which strategy is effective at enrolling subjects in a timely manner especially for SMOs with limited resources is vital for the continuation of clinical trials and their overall success to help improve scientific advancement. This study examined the process of recruitment in a small SMO with a focus on evaluating the effectiveness of third-party recruitment campaigns in comparison with standard strategies. Specifically, determine whether this strategy is better at acquiring more subjects to be enrolled compared to other strategies used for the same trials. It was hypothesized that third-party recruitment would be a more effective recruitment strategy for smaller SMOs with more limited resources compared to other standard approaches used in much larger organizations. This was done by comparing historical data from past Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) related clinical trials at two sites involving third-party recruitment and the other strategies such as physician referral and database searches. It was found from our sample that third-party recruitment was better at recruiting and enrolling in sheer numbers. From the disaggregated portion of the analysis, third-party had a significant effect on recruiting subjects compared to the other standard approaches. However, no other statistical significance was observed in recruitment and enrollment numbers between the two groups but the data do trend towards promising outcomes when using third-party recruitment. The no statistical significance may be due to the limited amount of clinical trials and or the total number of subjects used in this study. Third-party recruitment campaigns may show some promise to helping small SMOs with limited resources to successfully recruit in a timely and costly manner but future research is needed to further investigate its efficiency in recruitment using larger sample studies.