Growing Use of Video Related to Clinical Trials

For some time now, I've been an advocate for the use of video to complement work related to clinical trials.  There are a lot of reasons for that, many of which I've stated before.  Clinical trials are a bit of a mystery to most people.  Video is a great tool for education.  That alone should encourage more use of it by medical products researchers.  At least two companies have begun putting together video to solicit participation in clinical trials – Pfizer and J&J.  

As mentioned recently here on Eye on FDA, Pfizer began a YouTube channel a year ago that is called "PfizerClinicalTeam" where the company has begun posting videos – 9 so far – about clinical trials that are being conducted and for which the company is recruiting.  Video also is a great way to create outreach for specific populations and the most recent video by Pfizer is one recruiting for adolescents with fibromyalgia:  

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This video is fairly literal.  It features a physician who speaks about the clinical study and provides information about it.  And the YouTube channels by pharma companies, as pointed out in a posting last week here on Eye on FDA, companies have not been too adept at promoting and socializing their YouTube channels. Still, the budding development of video in YouTube recruitment is entirely encouraging.  

Last week, J&J also posted a video to recruit for a clinical trial to it's channel JNJHealth.  This one is less literal than the one posted by Pfizer, and takes on more of the character of an advertisement about a clinical trial, rather than just the conveyance of information:

Eventually, video needs to move beyond the mere ad for a clinical trial.  Because there is also great potential for culturally sensitive and appropriate materials on clinical trial participation, particularly for minority populations.  I have sat through many FDA advisory committee meetings where the question is posed "how did you recruit for minorities in your clinical trials?" and the answer is often the same – "advertising". 

Videos for clinical trial participation have a lot of room for greater dynamism and appeal and for broader educational value.  Consider that some of the most popular videos put together by the pharmaceutical industry have involved patients talking about their experience with a particular condition so that other patients with that condition can learn.  

That experience should suggest that an effective means for recruiting patients to clinical trial would be to feature a patient who has gone actually gone through a clinical trial, or who has signed up for one.  He or she could discuss the benefits, concerns and address issues that might appeal to someone else who is considering participation. The patient could talk about fears and concerns and how they were overcome.  In other words, video for clinical trials not only has the charge of spreading news about the clinical trial, it also must go beyond the ad – to address the issues involved with clinical trials and to motivate participation.  

Speaking of motivation, here is another from J&J that does a great job in a short time of demonstrating how one person's participation in a clinical trial can affect another person's life:


Pharma still has a long way to go on this front – both in terms of content development and in promotion of the video produced for YouTube, but these first steps are a great start in an area that is filled with potential and has no where to go but up.  As companies grow in their ability and experience in using video to educate about clinical trials, both they and patients will benefit.  

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3 Responses to Growing Use of Video Related to Clinical Trials

  1. Dan Sfera says:

    I agree that the move to video is a huge step up for clinical trials social media recruitment. The problem with this, as I have discussed on my own blog several times, is the lack of informational and educational videos re clinical trials. So far, all I have seen is actors playing the role of study participants claiming they had great experiences, and people in white lab coats speaking medical jargon. Social media is meant to be more engaging, and you are right on when you suggest trial participants should share their experiences. people are not stupid, and they can spot an ad when they see one. We need to create videos that are 100 percent authentic.

  2. Mark Blevis says:

    Are there spaces in the regulations (regulatory and contractual) at this point that allow trial participants to publicly share their stories through social media?

  3. Geoff Kieley says:

    I agree with Dan Sfera wholeheartedly – I started up the recruiting video program for Pfizer, and I’ve been absolutely clear from the start: no actors! We use the actual study team members. I’m very proud of our team’s efforts (they work so hard, and they never get recognition) and I want patients to know who they are – real people! doctors, nurses, scientists. That’s the Pfizer I know!
    I’d like to see every company in the industry doing this. If you’d like to know more, drop me a line. I’m always happy to discuss.