Three things to consider when using social listening research for patient recruitment

For this blog, I am looking at how patient insights can power your patient recruitment campaign. A look into social listening follows on from this blog perfectly, offering a stronger and more authentic alternative to relying on data trends to guide your activities. So, let’s get started…


What’s possible with social listening research?

Social listening provides patient research that can uncover both conscious and unconscious thoughts, feelings and behaviours. You can start to understand the disease area and perception of clinical trials from the patient’s point of view. Here’s a few examples of ways social listening can be applied to clinical trial advertising:


  1. Identify consumer behaviour, making it easier to personalise clinical trial marketing
  2. Identify preferred treatments or even treatment providers
  3. Tailor clinical trial design to patients


So, how do you get your hands on this real-world data?

Getting the right kind of data from social listening begins with asking the right questions. First, you should have a think about how clinical trials are perceived by patients. Here are some examples of questions you could answer using insights:


  1. What are patients trying to achieve by participating in your clinical trial?
  2. What motivates patients to take part in clinical trials?
  3. What do patients want as an end result from a clinical trial?
  4. What factors may stop patients from taking part in a clinical trial?
  5. What impacts do past experiences have?


From this, you can start to unpick the barriers that may prevent you from meeting your patient recruitment targets, all from the perspective of the patient. Maybe there’s a certain procedure involved in most clinical trials that increases patient burden, that isn’t really key to finding the primary endpoints of the trial, and can therefore be removed from your clinical trial protocol to make your study more inviting to patients. Or, maybe there’s a barrier that prevents patients applying for clinical trials, like not meeting strict eligibility criteria. Through identifying these barriers, you can tailor your recruitment strategy to help enhance your patient recruitment.


However, there is a catch…

Social listening has some pitfalls to look out for. As social listening is conducted via social media, some posts can be misleading because of their tone of voice. Here are a few examples you should consider when filtering through social listening messages:

#1 Sarcasm — this isn’t easy for social listening tools to detect. For example, if someone were to write this on social media, it may not be detected:

“Aren’t I lucky, today my doctor told me the wonderful news that my symptoms are getting worse.”

As readers, we can understand that this is clearly sarcasm, however social listening software would identify the words “lucky” and “wonderful” as good.


#2 Exaggeration — There are certainly times where medical conditions are exaggerated in everyday language. For example:

“Going back to work after a great weekend is so depressing.”

It’s likely that social listening software would still detect this as relating to depression, when that isn’t really the topic of the social media message.


#3 Alternative phrasing — There are often countless ways to say the same thing. For example, consider the word “medicine” — it could easily be replaced with “meds”, “medication” or “drugs”, which are often used interchangeably in speech.

So, social listening research definitely has it’s place in patient recruitment. It’s one of the best ways to understand the motives behind patient participation, and the barriers that may prevent it. However, nuances in every-day language must also be accounted for to get an accurate depiction of the patients point of view. Gathering useful and accurate patient insights isn’t always easy, but this is where expert guidance comes in handy.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use patient insights in your patient recruitment strategy, let us introduce you to TrialVerse — an insights-led patient recruitment solution that’s designed to support your recruitment strategy in becoming a seamless process for patients, sites and sponsors.


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Patient Research

Rosemary Lakeru

Rosemary is a Patient Feasibility, Recruitment and Retention Specialist with over 8 years of experience in recruiting patients for clinical trials. Using a patient-centered approach Rosemary provides strategic solutions to boost recruitment for my clients. Rosemary believes that connecting, communicating, and empowering patients before, during, and after their participation in a trial can help drive successful Retention and Enrolment goals.

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