The Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation (CISCRP) has announced its second annual AWARE for All series of virtual events. The series is intended to get members of the public more aware of the benefits of clinical research and trial participation.
The series of five individual events, each targeted at a different region, are scheduled from April through November 2021. The focus of the content is to engage a diverse range of community members, to help ensure inclusive and representative trial participant populations down the road.
Outsourcing-Pharma recently spoke with two CISCRP leaders, who shared details about the event and the importance of increasing awareness of the vital importance clinical research holds to public health:
- Joan Chambers, senior director of marketing and outreach
- Phyllis Kaplan, senior manager of events and community engagement
OSP: Could you please provide some perspective on how the clinical trial industry is perceived by the public, how the industry has communicated with ‘civilians’ in the past and how such efforts might have left room for improvement?
CISCRP: There is still a level of distrust around clinical trials among different diverse communities based on historical events, as this information has been shared and passed down from generation to generation over time. For example, the Tuskegee Study, which was conducted to study the effects of untreated syphilis in Black men, led to misinformation and ultimately inadequate treatment that lasted 40 years.
In addition to a history of distrust, there have always been underlying concerns and thoughts among the general public that a “clinical trial participant is a guinea pig.” However, over the past few years, the healthcare and clinical trials industry, along with FDA, NIH and other government institutions, have been working to address these misconceptions, rebuild the trust, and connect with the community through different campaigns and initiatives.
In today's healthcare environment with COVID-19 and the vaccines, there is an incredible amount of information available today and made accessible by so many different channels -- TV, radio, print, digital, social media, and word of mouth. With all this information, the question now becomes, what is the most reliable information? And with the vaccine fast-tracked, there are still concerns among community members.
To help improve these misconceptions, it's important that, as an industry, we continue to share positive findings and information about clinical trials and why they are essential. Engaging in live or virtual events like AWARE for All allows us to focus on key elements and questions that may be top-of-mind for the general public while ensuring representation and personal experiences that are relatable to the individual.
OSP: Could you tell us about some of the ways in which CISCRP has worked to spread the word about the positive impact of clinical research?
CISCRP: Our mission is to build awareness of clinical research and the importance of diverse communities' participation. Therefore, we work to inform, educate and engage the public through our various services, events, and programs.
As an organization, we offer translation services for clinical trial information, research and surveys, a library of easy-to-read clinical research material, a robust online database of clinical trials, print/digital media campaigns, and a variety of grassroots events and programs to help educate the public.
OSP: Please tell us about the AWARE for All initiative — what is the thinking behind it, and how do you hope it will impact/inform public knowledge of clinical trials?
CISCRP: AWARE for All is a free virtual event and program aimed to inform and educate the general public about clinical trials -- what the trials are, the process, who is involved, questions to ask before and during participation, the risks and benefits, the safeguards in place, etc.
The AWARE events help the general public fully understand why clinical trials are conducted in addition to helping address concerns, barriers, and misconceptions. The events also aim to rebuild trust among communities by inviting healthcare professionals and clinical trial participants to speak on their own personal stories, experiences, and research.
Without clinical trials or knowledge on this kind of research, pharmacy shelves would be empty. As an example, see CISCRP's campaign, MT Pharmacy, which is a powerful video that has resonated with AWARE for All attendees in the past.
OSP: Could you please tell us a bit more about how the events are structured and the strategy behind the regional events focusing on different conditions?
CISCRP: This year, the AWARE for All virtual events will take place across all five US regions starting April 15 and ending in November. The events will feature a webinar and an interactive informational exhibit center, all hosted on a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate platform. There are two parts to each event:
- The 90-minute webinar, which will include health tips or exercises, a facilitated panel discussion including clinical trial participants and researchers, and short informational videos.
- An informational exhibit center that the attendees can access at any point, which will include over 30 organizations sharing their clinical research and healthcare resources. Attendees can expect a traditional exhibit booth experience in a digital format, like one-on-one conversations with company representatives, interactive informational collateral, and digital downloads.
Additionally, each event will focus on specific therapeutic areas and locally common conditions including but not limited to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and COVID-19.
OSP: How are you getting the word out about the AWARE for All series to the public?
CISCRP: We're getting the word out through a variety of different marketing strategies including our dedicated digital advertising campaigns along with targeted PR efforts, focusing on both traditional and nontraditional media. Additionally, over the years, CISCRP has established strong relationships with a variety of healthcare and advocacy organizations, so we've been incredibly fortunate to have received great feedback as they are willing to share across their vast network/communities.
OSP: Do you have anything to add that we didn’t touch upon above?
To learn more about AWARE for All 2021, or to sign-up for one of the five upcoming events in your area, visit ciscrp.org/events/aware-for-all/aware-for-all-events-2021. Our first event kicks off in the Northeast on Thursday, April 15 from 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm EDT, so we invite community members to participate by visiting ciscrp.org/event/aware-for-all-northeast-virtual-event.
Organizations interested in sponsoring the series or exhibiting in the virtual informational exhibit center should contact CISCRP at firstname.lastname@example.org or 877.633.4376.