May 4, 2018: Leveraging Community Engagement and Informatics-Based Tools to Increase Participant Recruitment and Retention


Paul A. Harris, PhD
Director, Office of Research Informatics
Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics & Department of Biomedical Engineering Vanderbilt University

Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI
Executive Director
Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Patricia Jones, DrPH, MPH
Program Director
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)


Leveraging Community Engagement and Informatics-Based Tools to Increase Participant Recruitment and Retention


Clinical Research; National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; NCATS; Public health; Trial Innovation Network; Recruitment Innovation Center; Clinical and Translational Science Awards; CTSA; Community engagement; Participant retention; Health informatics

Key Points

    • The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences aims to improve health through smarter science.
    • Moving from scientific discovery to true public health benefit requires multisite collaboration, impactful dissemination, and smarter use of data by clinicians and patients.
    • The mission of the NIH-supported Trial Innovation Network (TIN) is to develop, demonstrate effectiveness of, and disseminate scientific and operational innovations that increase the efficiency of clinical trials.
    • Novel study designs with compelling endpoints and data-driven approaches create innovation in the execution of clinical trials.
    • The Vanderbilt University Medical Center Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC) was developed to improve participant enrollment and retention in multicenter clinical trials, including enrollment and retention of diverse populations.

Discussion Themes

Clinician engagement can be a challenge with informatics-based tools. To increase engagement, researchers should expand their attention to clinical staff so that they feel empowered to share study-related information. Staff-level engagement techniques include sharing flyers and conducting screenings.

The Faster Together project, an RIC supplement, will test innovative approaches within trials by including culturally tailored messaging, plans created with minority communities, and approaches to engage minorities and marginalized communities in clinical trials. To test effectiveness, Faster Together will randomly expose minority participants to tailored materials versus non-tailored materials, with a blind assessment of the impact on participant accrual.

There will potentially be far-reaching implications resulting from the Common Rule changes, which the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program is well positioned to address.


For information on NCATS, follow @ncats_nih_gov and for more information on Vanderbilt RIC, check out the RIC website.


@Collaboratory1, @ncats_nih_gov, @VUMChealth, #clinicaltrials, #publichealth, #CTSAProgram, #publichealth, #pctGR

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