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Survey Indicates COVID-19 to Negatively Impact Clinical Trial Enrollment and Retention

NORTHBROOK, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A quantitative survey conducted by Continuum Clinical late last week indicates as many as one third of clinical research study sites were anticipating significant COVID-19-related interruptions to clinical trial recruitment and retention rates in the weeks and months ahead, even before the federal government declared a National Emergency, and states moved to limit the activities of certain groups.


Continuum Clinical, a global clinical trial enrollment company specializing in fact-based strategies, conducted the quantitative study on March 12-13 with 170 clinical trial sites in the US. Initial results indicate multiple areas of concern for study sites, highlighting an expected significant impact on clinical trial recruitment. Nearly 30% of responding sites said the novel coronavirus will have a big or extremely big impact on their ability to recruit patients for new trials and to keep already-enrolled patients compliant with their study schedules.

“Even at this early stage – where school closures and life disruptions have only just begun – study sites are bracing for a recruitment and retention problem,” said Continuum Clinical president Neil Weisman. “We want to uncover these trends and, when possible, mitigate their potential impact in an effort to help our sponsor and CRO partners understand what they need to be watching for as this pandemic unfolds.”

In the study conducted March 12-13, 39% of US sites surveyed said they believe patients will be much less or somewhat less likely to enroll in new clinical research trials; 25% of sites indicated they expect patients currently enrolled in a trial to be much less or somewhat less willing to continue their participation.

“The data show a clear early signal that we’re entering an inflection point in trial sites’ confidence about patient willingness to participate in research as a response to the outbreak,” said Continuum Clinical Vice President of Data and Analytics Paul Ivsin. “As we continue to monitor these trends, we are looking to build fact-based planning scenarios for sites and sponsors based on the behavioral changes we’re measuring.”

In the study, non-academic hospital sites were more likely to say recruiting new patients has been a challenge, whereas sites in academic institutions were more likely to say retention of currently enrolled patients has been the biggest challenge.

In an effort to continue monitoring the impact COVID-19 has on clinical research, including identifying emerging trends, Continuum Clinical will continue to field the quantitative study, and will publish data frequently to track how the situation unfolds, providing global data and real-time updates as they become available.

About Continuum Clinical

Continuum Clinical is a global clinical trial enrollment company, providing fact-based patient recruitment solutions that deliver results. With over twenty-five years of experience, Continuum Clinical provides sponsors and CROs with patient recruitment and retention planning, study and site support, patient recruitment campaigns, patient advocacy and diversity & inclusion services, retention solutions, and reporting and analytics. We specialize in identifying and solving challenges that can impact successful clinical trial enrollment, from protocol development through study completion. Headquartered in the US, Continuum Clinical has more than 100 employees in the US and Europe and an expanded network of resources worldwide.

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