Around the globe, the 20th of May is celebrated in memory of what is often considered the first randomised clinical trial. It was on this day, in 1747, that physician and naval surgeon James Lind is thought to have begun the trial that would lead him to recommend that fresh citrus fruit and lemon juice be included in the diet of seamen to combat scurvy (read more).
On 19th May 2016, I attended the Clinical Trials Day event of the Swedish Pharmaceutical Society (Apotekarsocieteten), a non-profit organization which seeks to further development in pharmaceutical research and to promote high professional standards.
This after-work session was hosted by the Clinical Trials Section and offered two presentations. Statistician Mikael Åström talked about national quality registers; how they are used and how they could be used. He encouraged practitioners to consider conducting register-based RCTs (randomised clinical trials), although there are still some issues; one being how to handle adverse event reporting.
Jonas Billing, from the software company Trialbee, offered insights into digital recruitment. (e-recruitment). It is a relatively new method for recruiting patients for clinical trials and serves to ensure critical recruitment deadlines are met and resources are not squandered because studies have to be abandoned. Indeed, patient recruitment often becomes a bottleneck because of difficulties in matching patients and studies. It was really interesting to hear how well-known digital marketing principles and methods, such as search engine optimisation and social listening, can be used to boost traffic and improve conversion rates for clinical studies.
For each study, Trialbee produces patient-friendly information (text and graphics approved by an ethics committee) and assesses the digital landscape to determine which channels to use, e.g. social networking sites, medical publications or widgets. Through careful monitoring of the campaign, the company is able to adapt the message and channels according to the response of the target audience. I was amazed to learn that even something as simple as a picture of a smiling elderly woman selected for marketing purposes elicited great responses from a Norwegian audience but completely failed to engage the Danish target group.
Different target groups are also liable to react differently to text. That is why, at Lund Translation Team, we always try to get a briefing about the target group and the desired effect before we start translating. A translation properly adapted to the relevant target group has a much higher chance of success. An understanding of the differences between German and Swedish target groups and their values and preferences is one of the things that enables me to masterfully adapt patient information texts from German to Swedish.
Happy Clinical Trials Day!