As more older adults embrace the Internet, sponsors and CROs should consider using digital marketing to recruit Alzheimer’s patients for clinical trials.
Approximately 5.8 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is expected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050. To raise awareness about the condition, Alzheimer’s Disease International created the World Alzheimer’s Month initiative in 2012. Throughout the month of September, organizations around the world host events and campaigns to advocate for dementia patients and their caregivers.
Unfortunately, recruiting and retaining patients for clinical trials is one of the most significant challenges of developing improved treatments for Alzheimer’s. In honor of World Alzheimer’s Month, here’s how sponsors and CROs can use digital marketing to raise awareness and encourage Alzheimer’s patients to seek out cutting-edge care.
The Importance of Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials
Clinical trials provide patients with access to high-quality, innovative treatments. Clinical trials have the potential to help not only participating patients, but others living with Alzheimer’s as well — even if the treatment being studied does not work as hoped.
There are several types of clinical trials available to Alzheimer’s patients. Prevention studies can help at-risk participants lower their chances of developing Alzheimer’s. Quality of life studies explore ways to improve symptoms and other everyday challenges for people living with the condition. Diagnostic studies examine new techniques and procedures for diagnosing Alzheimer’s. And, finally, treatment trials test new therapies or treatment combinations to improve patients’ prognoses.
Each of these trial types has its own unique benefits for patients in various stages of the disease. Further, research shows that people living with Alzheimer’s who are involved in clinical trials tend to fare better than those in a similar stage of the disease who are not. This advantage appears regardless of whether the experimental treatment works, likely due to the high quality of care provided as part of clinical studies.
Recruiting Patients for Alzheimer’s Trials
There is a common misperception that older adults are not regular users of the Internet or social media. However, Internet use among seniors is higher than most people expect: 67 percent of seniors are active Internet users and 34 percent are on social media, with Facebook being their platform of choice. Baby Boomers also consume more online content than any other generation, with many spending over 20 hours per week online.
For seniors who do use the Internet, online searches have become their preferred source of health information. As such, sponsors and CROs who are recruiting for Alzheimer’s clinical trials can use digital marketing to reach potential patients where they’re already looking for treatment. Online campaigns are also an effective way to connect with Alzheimer’s patients’ younger caregivers.
To reach potential patients who are ready to take the next step — those who have already done their research and are more likely to convert — clinical trials should invest in search and social media ads. Search ads allow sponsors and CROs to target Alzheimer’s patients with relevant keywords, such as “Alzheimer’s clinical trials near me” or “Massachusetts dementia prevention studies.” These ads appear at the top of users’ search engine results pages when they enter related search terms.
Facebook and other social media ads allow sponsors and CROs to target specific patient groups based on age, location, and interests. Facebook in particular hosts a variety of support groups for chronic conditions, and can help clinical trials hone in on the right audiences. These social media ads should speak directly to the ways in which clinical trials can address Alzheimer’s patients’ pain points, touching on treatment goals and factors that may improve their quality of life.
The number of Alzheimer’s cases continues to rise, making it increasingly important for researchers to bring new treatments to market. And since breakthroughs can only be achieved through the participation of enrolled patients, many sponsors and CROs are actively looking to enhance patient recruitment and retention for Alzheimer’s clinical trials. By conveying the benefits of clinical trials through diverse digital marketing campaigns, sponsors and CROs can provide high-quality care to Alzheimer’s patients and get one step closer to a cure.