For some time now, I have expressed the idea that I think YouTube would be a great means by which people could be recruited for clinical trials. There was some budding hope of that when NIH posted some videos about clinical trials on its apparently abandoned YouTube channel NIH4Health (NIH has apparently not posted any video for a year).
The reasons I think video is a good way to expose people to learning about clinical trials are multiple. First, it allows me as a prospective clinical trial participant to learn about a clinical trials when I want to learn about it and where I want to learn about it – a hallmark of social media. Second, it is private – I can learn from a video that can be developed to address a wide range of issues – issues that I might not be so comfortable addressing with a live person. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I learn about the clinical trials perhaps from someone on a video who is very much like me. He can be someone with my condition – someone who has gone through a trial, and talk about how his concerns were addressed, what his fears were and what the benefits of participation were. That, I think, is a much more convincing way to learn about a trial than an ad in a newspaper or even a discussion with a clinical person. Video can't replace the medical professional, but it sure can get my interest and perhaps trust to make recruitment much easier.
So I was heartened when I discovered that Pfizer has begun a YouTube channel with the aim of effective clinical trial recruitment. It is called PfizerClinicalTeam and it was begun in July 2009, however its most recent video was posted in April, 2010, presenting clinical researchers discussing a new study of schizophrenia.
The channel is not well socialized – meaning it has not sought links to other channels or subscribed to many others. It might increase the traffic and subscribers to the site (it only has 12) if it were linked to other YouTube channels that involve research, such as the British Medical Journal, which has nearly 10,000 channel views and 324 subscribers, or the New England Journal of Medicine channel which has had over 14,000 channel views and has 611 subscribers. A plan for socialization could improve traffic and subscriptions.
It is a good step to bring information to clinical trials prospects via video and one that, at least from this quarter, is welcomed.