Researchers suggest web-based tools to recruit study participants for clinical pain trials

Published on April 15, 2013 at 2:39 AM · No Comments

Researchers are suggesting new ways to use existing Internet tools to recruit more study participants for clinical pain trials and to increase the likelihood they will remain throughout the study period. An innovative website allowed recruiters to reach out broadly to target and recruit potential subjects and to avoid many of the common difficulties of pain research, according to results presented today at the 29th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

Research is important to establish which therapies are safe and effective for pain and which patients might benefit most from them. But clinical pain trials are plagued by low response rates in the early stages and high dropout rates once studies commence. Failure to attract and maintain the appropriate sample size can compromise results and waste valuable resources.

With this in mind, the research team set out to enhance recruitment during a multi-center trial to study women who suffer from vulvar pain. Using funding provided through the National Institutes of Health, they designed a recruitment website that offered multiple methods for attracting and interacting with potential subjects.

The goal was a "one-stop shopping" site to address informational needs, recruitment into the clinical trial and follow-up of patients who suffer from the painful disorder. Containing these functions within a single website, linked to a secure database, offers a significant advantage, according to the researchers.

"Despite the deeply personal and traumatic nature of vulvodynia, women suffering from it are a highly engaged target population that we can reach out to," said Ian Brooks, PhD, director of the Office of Biomedical Informatics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tenn., and an author on the study. "Everyone uses the Internet to look for information nowadays, and our website is designed to provide them this information at the same time as screening them for our clinical trial."

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