Patient recruitment and retention is always a challenge in clinical trials. Studies which fail to accrue enough participants can terminate early, potentially wasting time, money, and harming participants. Studies which don’t terminate, but recruit slowly are also more expensive to conduct—adding to the total cost of the experiment. An efficient research enterprise is one in which patients can easily find the trials for which they are eligible and in which researchers plan their studies to account for the local social-environmental factors that are likely to affect recruitment. The dashboard below sheds some light on these challenges, looking at all the actively recruiting (and terminated) diabetes trials in the Boston area.

Bokeh Plot

What does this show?

The histogram tab shows how the active recruiting targets compare to the burden in terminated trials. Since the burdens on research participants are ethically required to be offset by gains in generalizable knowledge (which usually requires completing the study), then this is useful information to consider when planning (or reviewing) a new study: How likely is this new trial to hit its recruitment targets and complete as planned—particularly given the trends for the domain and local limitations on recruitment?

The indication/population space tab allows the user to dig deeper and compare/contrast trials within specific indications of interest. By mousing-over the individual node for terminated (i.e., red) trials, the user can also see the reason why the study was terminated. Was it for failing to recruit? Safety or efficacy issues? Or what is a business decision? Patterns in the reasons for termination with particular interventions or populations may be important factors to consider when evaluating the risk/benefit balance in future trials. By laying them out in a systematic way, this kind of landscape can help many different stakeholders to make a more informed judgment about challenges for study completion.