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Patient Intelligence: designing clinical trials in the COVID-19 era

In the age of COVID-19, patients can’t wait for new vaccines and therapies to come to the market. That is why even in these challenging times, Covance has been focused more than ever on understanding the patient perspective on clinical trial participation. As social distancing has become the new normal, the need to understand changes in preferences associated with interest in trial participation should be taken into account when developing protocols.

Voice of Patient Research in the Age of COVID-19

From March 31 through April 2, 2020, Covance conducted over 1,500 Voice of the Patient surveys across the U.S. and U.K. One trend that became evident is the attractiveness of virtual and hybrid trials among patients. While 56% of U.S. respondents indicated they would be likely to participate in a traditional clinical trial that would require visiting a clinical research facility, 74% told us that they would be likely to participate in a virtual or hybrid trial, in which travel and in-person interaction would be limited or eliminated. In the U.K., 54% indicated they would be likely to participate in a traditional clinical trial, with 64% likely to participate in a virtual or hybrid trial.

The difference is even more significant when we look specifically at those individuals who indicated they would be very likely to participate in trials of any kind. While 35% of U.S. respondents said they would be very likely to participate in a traditional clinical trial, a majority – 52% – said they would be very likely to participate in a virtual or hybrid trial. Among respondents from the U.K., 21% indicated they would be very likely to participate in a traditional trial and 37% in a virtual or hybrid trial.

The ability to leverage technology and other patient-centric approaches to clinical trial design presents an opportunity to develop protocols that align more closely with patient preferences and expand the pool of likely participants.

Addressing Patient Concerns with Trial Participation

Our survey data also pointed to an important shift in patient concerns with clinical trials post-COVID-19: the concern over the potential for adverse side effects.

While the potential for adverse side effects has historically proven to be a top consideration for patient participation in clinical trials, we now see a heightened awareness and concern over potential impacts to their health and well-being. Our pre-COVID-19 global Voice of the Patient survey data tells us it’s a top consideration for 33% of individuals participating in clinical trials. Data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic shows that percentage has risen to 52% in the U.S. and 43% in the U.K.

This heightened awareness points to the need to partner with patients as early as possible in the process. Offering enhanced education and clear communication will help ensure a complete understanding of trial therapies and goals. By increasing engagement and capturing insights, it becomes possible to design patient-centric protocols that will increase trial participation.

To learn more about how Covance is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our landing page which is being updated regularly.

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