Want Patient Engagement? Think team!

Posted by Jim Lane on Jul 5, 2017 12:09:24 PM

A key challenge associated with the multi-faceted, dispersed, and part-time nature of large-scale clinical trials is achieving a strong team dynamic amongst your core stakeholders - sponsor, site staff, patients, and study monitors.

How well they perform individually and collectively determines the outcome of your clinical trial. Like all strong teams, trust, communication, and clarity of roles and responsibilities are essential.

Truly though, how often does this stakeholder group look, act, and feel like a real team?

A recent experiment by Stanford University scientists showed the benefits to even just “feeling” part of a team to be highly significant1. Researchers created two control groups and asked individuals within each group to carry out the same task. Within the groups, each individual was acting alone using precisely the same tools, support, and instructions. However, one group was given a series of subtle cues to make them feel like they were working together as a team.

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The results were remarkable! 

patient engagement - part of the team

When people were treated as though they were working together they:

  • Persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on a challenging task
  • Reported more interest in the task
  • Became less tired by having to persist on the task – presumably because they enjoyed it
  • Became more engrossed in the task and performed the task better

The lead researcher observed that "simply feeling like you're part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges," and “the results reflect an increase in motivation – not a sense of obligation, competition or pressure to join others in an activity.”

He noted that "It is also striking that it does not take enormous effort and change to create this feeling of togetherness. Subtle cues that signal people are part of a team or larger effort ignited motivation and effort. Careful attention to the social context as people work and learn can help us unleash motivation."

There is enormous latent “team” energy within clinical trials that could be harnessed to power patient engagement. Undoubtedly, running a clinical trial compliantly and efficiently is a team effort. A little more thought and effort into making the participants “feel” part of the team could release that energy and yield powerful results.

clinical trial site staff ebook


  1. http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2014/pr-motivation-walton-carr-091514.html


Topics: Patient Centricity

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