What are the barriers to clinical trial participation?

Hand knocking down barriers
  • 5Minutes

Navigating the world of clinical trials presents a lot of challenges, with potential participants facing various barriers that contribute to hesitation or reluctance to engage in these crucial studies. This article delves into the common barriers to clinical trial participation affecting patients and how they can be addressed to provide a better experience.

Lack of Awareness

Many people may not be aware of available clinical trials or may not have access to information about ongoing studies.

  • Implement targeted awareness campaigns through various channels, including social media, community events, and healthcare providers.
  • Collaborate with patient advocacy groups to disseminate information about ongoing clinical trials.
  • Develop user-friendly online platforms that provide easily accessible information about available trials.

Financial Concerns

Participants may worry about the costs associated with participating in a clinical trial, such as travel costs, expenses or medical procedures not covered by the study. A key reason patients don’t participate in clinical trials is due to financial concerns, with a staggering 30% of patients reporting financial concerns as a barrier to trial participation.

It is understandable when some payments/reimbursements can be delayed due to manual processes and often times AP turnaround times are 30,60, or even 90 days. The financial burden of clinical trials also disproportionately affects minority groups, which leads to less diversity in clinical research.

  • Implement a payment and reimbursement system for eligible expenses incurred during the trial.
  • Ensure that reimbursement processes are streamlined and payments are prompt to alleviate financial burdens.
  • Provide flexibility in payment methods, allowing participants to choose options that suit their preferences.
  • Consider offering immediate or staggered payments to accommodate varying financial situations.
  • Explore virtual or remote trial options to reduce the need for travel and associated costs.

Getting your patient payments right by using a clinical trial payment system like SkyePay eliminates these concerns and makes clinical trials accessible to everyone. Responsive and flexible payments help to build trust with trial participants and alleviate the financial toll. SkyePay was built with patient needs at the heart, payments are immediate and they have a wide range of flexibility in choosing the payment method right for them, every visit. Helping to improve patient retention and engagement in your study.

Fear of the Unknown

The unfamiliar nature of clinical trials, including the experimental nature of some treatments, can create apprehension and fear among potential participants.

  • Create informative materials explaining the clinical trial process, emphasizing its regulated and ethical nature.
  • Offer virtual or in-person informational sessions where potential participants can ask questions and gain a better understanding of the trial journey.
  • Share success stories and testimonials from previous trial participants to demystify the process.

Concerns about Side Effects

Participants may worry about potential side effects or adverse reactions to new treatments, especially when the long-term effects are unknown.

  • Provide detailed information about the safety protocols in place during clinical trials.
  • Offer forums for potential participants to discuss concerns with healthcare professionals involved in the trial.
  • Emphasize the rigorous testing and monitoring procedures to ensure participant safety.

Time Commitment

Clinical trials often require a significant time commitment, including regular visits to the study site, which can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules or other commitments.

  • Explore flexible scheduling options for trial visits, including evenings or weekends.
  • Implement virtual visits when feasible to reduce the need for in-person appointments.
  • Clearly communicate the expected time commitment from the outset, allowing potential participants to plan accordingly.

Geographic Barriers

Some people may be deterred by the location of the study site, especially if it involves travel or relocation.

  • Consider establishing trial sites in diverse locations to enhance accessibility.
  • Provide transportation assistance or reimbursement for travel expenses.
  • Utilize virtual technologies for remote participation whenever possible.


The procedures involved in clinical trials, such as frequent medical tests and procedures, may be seen as inconvenient by potential participants.

  • Streamline trial procedures to minimize the number of required visits.
  • Simplify documentation processes and reduce unnecessary medical tests.
  • Offer home-based options for certain assessments when applicable.

Eligibility Criteria

Strict eligibility criteria, such as specific age, health status, or medical history requirements, can exclude many individuals from participating.

  • Clearly communicate eligibility criteria at the outset to manage expectations.
  • Advocate for more inclusive criteria when designing and conducting trials.
  • Explore adaptive trial designs that allow for broader participant inclusion.

Concerns about Placebo

Participants may worry about receiving a placebo instead of the actual treatment, especially if the condition being studied is serious.

  • Clearly explain the use of placebos in trials and their ethical considerations.
  • Emphasize the necessity of placebo-controlled studies for scientific validity.
  • Provide detailed information about the likelihood of receiving a placebo versus active treatment.

Lack of Trust

Some individuals may not trust the researchers or the motives behind the clinical trial, often due to historical instances of unethical medical research.

  • Foster transparency by openly sharing trial protocols, objectives, and potential risks.
  • Engage with community leaders and influencers to build trust within specific demographics.
  • Implement patient-centered communication strategies, actively addressing historical concerns and emphasizing ethical practices.


In Summary

By recognizing and actively working to break down barriers to clinical trial participation – such as lack of awareness, fear, eligibility criteria, and financial concerns, the medical community can foster increased participation. Initiatives focused on transparent communication, streamlined payments and reimbursements, educational campaigns, and enhancing accessibility can collectively contribute to dismantling these barriers.

Through collaborative efforts, the aim is to not only overcome individual hesitations but also to build a foundation for a more inclusive and impactful clinical research landscape, benefiting both current and future generations.

If you want to know how we can support your next trial, get in touch.


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