Supporting a patient's support system during your clinical trial

We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That’s usually true, and in some cases it takes a pretty big village. In the health world, however, we have another saying: “It takes a system to support a patient.”

That's because every patient journey is different, and while the patient’s health professionals play a vital role, they are hardly the only factor in determining success and recovery from illness. A patient’s support system can include family, friends, support groups and other related organizations, and this system is important, too. Consider this: research from the University of North Carolina and Brigham Young University shows that patients who lacked strong social support when battling an illness were 50 percent more likely to die than those who had that strong social support.

The child needs their village and the patient needs their support network.

Making your messaging all-inclusive

As patients travel the winding road to wellness and recovery, they’ll benefit from their healthcare professionals and support system working together. This is especially true during a clinical trial when the guidelines set in place may be more specific. As marketers, we have a unique opportunity to support everyone involved by extending a welcoming hand to a patient’s support group and letting them know we understand just how valuable they really are.

To help your marketing reach everyone it should, here are four ways you can connect with the patient’s support group during a clinical trial.

1. Create messaging specifically for the support group

As the clinical trial begins, members of the support group may have questions about the trial or even the illness itself. As marketers, we have the power to erase some of this confusion-associated fear by providing support group members with the materials they need to improve their understanding. These materials should outline what they need to know about the illness and the trial. They can provide that support through clear information and education related the day to day needs of the patient and how that can be impacted or supported through the trial. 

2. Make your general messaging more inclusive

Want an easy change with a big impact? Recognize the patient and the support group are all one, big team. Instead of saying “you” or “your patient journey,” use phrases like “you and your support group” to avoid exclusion. Even this minor change will highlight the bond that the patient and the support group have formed, making everyone more interested in following the trial step by step.

3. Expound on the trial’s value

How will the clinical trial benefit the patient? Start off by assuming your messaging will be read by more than just the patient and take the time to explain all the benefits of the trial. You may just include a benefit or two that are especially appealing to members of the patient’s support group, and this can help them encourage the patient to stick with the trial. 

4. Provide resources to support a deeper dive

Whether they are patients or members of the patient’s support group, some people find comfort in learning all they can about a disease or a clinical trial. Give it to them. In our experience making sure that your website or supplemental informed consent communication is clear and comprehensive to empower anyone who wants to learn more. You can also consider adding caregiver-focused materials if you have time, making everything you offer easy to find for anyone. 

5. Get creative and interactive

It's important to think about and create your communication strategies for all target audiences. Many support groups include members of several different generations, in fact, so don’t be afraid to create materials across a wide variety of platforms. Contemporary text, videos, infographics and audio will all appeal to different people of different ages. Create as many as you can and you’ll improve your chances of reaching your entire audience.

Support your patients and their support groups today

The power of your patient’s support group cannot be understated so give them the tools they need to advocate and support thieir loved one every step of the way. Your clinical trial and, most importantly, the patient, will benefit from their continued support.