One of the challenges with recruitment for any clinical trial can be starting the conversation with a potential participant. Members of the CONNECT-HF study team at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) have learned that first establishing a connection with the patient can go a long way.
“We start the conversation by introducing ourselves and asking how the person is feeling,” said Ashley Eapen, clinical research coordinator in the department of research at SIUH. “After they tell us their symptoms, we can relate the study to them specifically, while also explaining the reasons they are eligible to participate.”
SIUH joined the CONNECT-HF project in May 2018, and are one of 11 CONNECT-HF sites in New York. They are the 7th highest enrolling site in the study and currently have 121 participants enrolled. The SIUH team said that they have learned that being friendly and personalizing the benefits of the study to potential participants on an individual level helps them with study enrollment.
“What seems to capture patients’ interest the most is when we mention that the study aims to limit repeat hospitalizations for those with chronic heart failure,” said Eapen.
The study team has also found that focusing on symptoms, rather than the diagnosis of chronic heart failure, can help patients understand both their condition and the study. Some patients find chronic heart failure to be a scary diagnosis, or may not realize they have the condition. In these cases, the SIUH CONNECT-HF team always encourages patients to talk more with their doctors.
The SIUH team shared that the most effective approach to talking with patients is to make sure the patient feels cared for and doesn’t feel that you are only interested in them as a potential participant. Having engaging conversations with any patient can help study teams learn more about what is important to people living with chronic health failure and to help make connections on how to help them improve their lives.
The study team also celebrates milestones for the team and for participants, and starts off with ringing a gong each time a new participant is enrolled. This way, they can recognize each individual and mark the beginning of the participant’s journey in CONNECT-HF.