3 tips to show patient diversity in your clinical trial materials

If you’ve read our previous blog, you’ll know all about the quick tips to improve diverse recruitment. (If you haven’t, you can catch up by reading it here!). We mentioned how important diverse stock photos and videos are for patient recruitment, but now you can gain a little more detail on why it’s important, and useful tips to help get your hands on authentically diverse stock photos.

When you’re looking to use diverse photos in your advertising, you need to make sure it’s accurate. But what do we mean by that? Some stock photos can perpetuate a stereotypical view of minority groups, which simply isn’t relatable. The whole point of using diverse stock imagery is to make people feel included and represented, which can’t happen if the images are an inaccurate representation.

How can representing patient diversity in imagery impact your clinical trial?

The images you use in your advertising can really impact your brand, both positively and negatively. When Adobe conducted a survey with 2000 respondents, they found the following:

On a positive note, the survey also found that 38% of consumers were more likely to trust brands that show diversity in their ads. But this percentage was even higher among minority groups:

  • 85% of Latinx participants
  • 79% of Black participants
  • 79% of Asian/Pacific Islander participants
  • 85% LGBTQ participants

So, imagery really can make or break your advertising when you’re trying to reach minority groups. This expands into clinical trial advertising too, and it’s really important that you get it right. Bearing that in mind, here are three things to consider when looking for authentically diverse imagery to use in clinical trial materials:


#1 Ditch general search terms

General search terms simply won’t return a diverse array of images. For example, if you search “man”, you’ll more than likely be bombarded with staged photos of overly happy white men. Make sure you know exactly who you’re looking to represent, and make sure that’s what you include in your search terms.


#2 Know your regulations

With clinical trials, there are plenty of additional regulations you have to abide by when it comes to imagery. Every designer who’s worked in this field will understand the formidable task of “not too sad, not too happy”. Getting images that express the right emotions on a diverse range of people is notoriously difficult.

For that reason, when it comes to using representative content in clinical trials, many people may be tempted to sacrifice diversity for images that follow these additional regulations. Please don’t do that though, it is possible to get both. Try adding the words “natural” or “neutral” to your searches, you’ll notice the images that come up will be more relevant, and you’ll dramatically reduce the number of images you need to sift through.


#3 When you find the diamond in the rough, use it

Eureka! After 45 minutes of endless scrolling, you’ve finally found it. An authentically representative image, in line with all of the regulations you need it to be. Now you just need to find 5 more. This feeling might be all too familiar.

When this happens, your best bet is to use the suggested images function. Any images that are similar to your diamond in the rough should appear.


(shhh, don’t tell anyone) Here’s an extra tip

I know I said three tips, but here’s an extra one. Think of it as a treat for reaching the end of the blog! When you’re searching for images to use in your clinical trial materials and your search results are showing thousands of pages of results, use this tip. The most popular (and therefore the most overused) images are usually in the first few pages. Get to the less-used, more authentic images by skipping straight to page 100 or so. These images usually feel a lot more ‘real’.

So, there you have it! Three (and a bit) tips to help you improve diversity in your clinical trial materials that’s authentic, real, and appropriate. If you’d like more useful advice on improving diversity in clinical trials, feel free to explore our other tips on our website or you can email me on ash@couchhealth.co

Creative Patient Facing Materials

Ash Rishi

As a failed neuroscientist, Ash has sought to bring meaningful change to the healthcare industry ever since by working at some of the biggest agencies in the world, his career spans more than 10 years. His expertise lies in creative communications, patient engagement, diversity & inclusion and patient recruitment strategies for clinical trials – with the ultimate goal in life to make clinical trials more human. When he isn’t doing all that, he’s anticipating the latest movie, expanding that love to screenwriting or trying to be creative.

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