Why doctors should refer patients into Clinical Studies?

The vast majority of doctors and even patients believe clinical trials are primarily for Oncology and that they are only a last resort.  In contrast, most other conditions offer valuable opportunities and benefits to clinical trial participation. For instance, in case of migraine and high cholesterol, there are promising new treatments being studied today, which may benefit patients who have not responded well to existing treatments or who experienced unbearable side effects. Particularly for COVID-19, extensive clinical trials were carried out to develop not only vaccines, but also important treatments and anti-infectives.

A recent survey conducted by BBK Worldwide, a patient recruitment and engagement company, found that 69% of doctors said they had referred a patient. However, 68% Doctors cited lack of knowledge about current studies as the main reason for not referring more. In addition, for those who were referred and participated in a clinical trial, 79% returned to their regular doctor for continued treatment, and 11% continued to see both their regular doctor and the study doctor.

Unsurprisingly, various studies have confirmed the significance of physician-patient relationships. Patients prefer a team of doctors who value clinical research and can incorporate it into their own practice. Ideally, doctors may be able to introduce clinical research as a care option (CRAACO). Interestingly, this is becoming a growing movement among many top health systems and has support across the medical community.

As most doctors have busy schedules, they may not be able to explain studies to every applicable patient. In this case, the office staff can recommend studies to patient as per the physician’s instructions. While many physicians would appreciate the opportunity to engage directly in research, the time commitment is substantial. Referring patients to well-run clinical sites can be a valuable alternative, where they can remain aware and engaged, often building important relationships with the principal investigators, thus making a meaningful contribution.