“Study Voices” Reveals Physician Support for Referring Patients to Clinical Studies

June 24, 2019

Applied Clinical Trials

A new survey from BBK Worldwide (BBK), challenges the long-held notion that physicians are not willing to refer their patients to other specialists for access to clinical studies. The latest “Study Voices” survey - part of an ongoing series of surveys designed to shed light on key clinical research trends - features perspectives from pharmaceutical and biotechnology sponsors, physicians, and patients. The patient portion was conducted as part of BBK’s partnership with Health Union, a pioneer in online communities for people with chronic health conditions.

With more than two-thirds of physicians surveyed indicating they have referred a patient to a clinical study, and half of the sponsors surveyed assuming the exact opposite, the findings underscore the need for sponsor awareness and support for concentrated efforts to engage potential referring physicians during the recruitment stage of a clinical study.

Survey findings revealed that 53 percent of sponsors believe that doctors are unwilling to refer their patients to other specialists for access to clinical trials, while 69 percent of doctors said they had in fact referred a patient. The survey also challenged the notion that doctors are reluctant to refer because of concerns over losing the patient or losing revenue. In fact, 68 percent of doctors surveyed said the reason they did not refer a patient was because of lack of information about the protocol - only 9 percent were concerned about losing the patient or losing revenue.

Findings from members of Health Union’s online communities revealed that the majority of patients learned about a clinical study opportunity from their doctor - 35 percent of whom were referred to a different doctor conducting the clinical study. Among those that were not referred, 71 percent said they would still have wanted to participate if they had been referred to a different doctor. Lastly, of those that had been referred to a specialist for care in the clinical trial, 79 percent returned to their regular doctor for continued treatment and 11 percent continued to see both the study doctor and their regular doctor following the conclusion of the study. “Compelling on their own, the findings also allude to the importance of the physician-patient relationship. It seems that the better the relationship is – with more open lines of communication – the more likely the doctor will introduce clinical research as an option and the more likely the patient will participate,” said Matt Kibby, Principal and President, BBK Worldwide.

“This survey confirms what we see every day via interactions within our condition-specific online communities: many people with chronic health concerns are eager to learn about clinical trials, and healthcare providers are important influencers in patients’ decisions to participate in clinical research,” said Olivier Chateau, Co-Founder and CEO, Health Union.

“The fact that more than a third of patients participating in clinical studies were referrals not only dispels the notion that doctors don’t refer, but it also suggests there may be room to increase that number,” said Kibby. “We just need to encourage doctors to continue to think about clinical research as part of the ecosystem of options for the patient’s healthcare.”

The Study Voices survey includes responses from 655 patients, 131 physicians, and 194 study sponsors, and it was conducted between April and June 2019.

Learn more at www.bbkworldwide.com