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Engaging advocacy groups for patient recruitment

Friday, January 15, 2016

Patient advocacy groups (PAGs) can provide a valuable avenue to recruit patients for clinical trials. Such groups are mobilized to pro­mote education, awareness and re­search for their constituents.

Many pharma companies have re­lationships with PAGs, but have had mixed success in leveraging them for clinical trial recruitment. To effec­tively engage, pharma must work to develop committed, long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with PAGs. Consider the following:

  • Relationships, not transactions: PAGs need financial support, but they want more. To build a true relationship and earn their trust, show groups you’re committed to their overall mission, as opposed to a sole clinical trial.
  • Listen to their needs: Your objective is clear—to promote a clinical trial to PAG constituents via their vehicles (banner ads, e-blasts, videos). But with limited resources, PAGs have wish lists that are long. Ask what you can provide in return. As a com­munications company, relevant content is often a critical gap that you can help fill. Encourage them to contribute to the content development process.
  • Develop engagement plans: After identifying mutual needs, craft a win-win plan. For example, the PAG sends e-blasts for your clinical trial, and in return you provide disease education content for their newsletters. The PAG posts your video on their Face­book page; you help sponsor local community events.
  • Evaluate and engage: Find out what worked and what didn’t, and co-author a strategy to improve engagement with the PAGs. Communicate regularly so mutual objectives stay on track.

This framework should help cre­ate rich relationships with PAGs that move all parties toward the shared goal of providing better treatment options for patients.


Written by Guest Writer Tammy Russo. Russo, vice president and advocacy relations practice lead at Continuum Clinical, has built advocacy offerings at Astellas, Shire and Lundbeck, leveraging a background in healthcare marketing, integrated communications and public relations. Her work includes identification of, outreach to and relationship management relevant to key patient advocacy groups and medical societies. She has led unbranded patient advocacy education campaigns, aligned with co-marketing partners, to translate clinical and commercial messaging for patient advocates, patients, care partners and caregivers.

This article was reprinted from Volume 22, Issue 12, of The CenterWatch Monthly, an industry leading publication providing hard-hitting, authoritative business and financial coverage of the clinical research space. The Action Items section features short columns  focusing on actionable or how-to advice from clinical trial professionals. To submit an Action Item, please contact editorial@centerwatch.comSubscribe >>

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