SCOPE Summit Europe 2023 provided a platform for industry experts to delve deep into the intricacies of modern clinical trials. Agata Wiesiołek, Senior Director of Study Management at AstraZeneca, spotlighted the challenges and innovative solutions in clinical trial patient burden. This article will discuss Wiesiołek’s perspectives and the insights she presented on the topic.

Understanding Patient Burden

Wiesiołek elucidated the concept of ‘Patient Burden’ as one of the central themes of her presentation. This term encapsulates the challenges patients face during trials, such as the financial and logistical demands of attending multiple prolonged visits and the often confusing nature of informed consent forms. A significant concern was the surge in exploratory procedures that do not directly contribute to primary endpoints, amplifying the overall burden on patients.

Implications of Rising Patient Burden

The ramifications of an escalated patient burden are multi-faceted. It’s not just about discomfort or inconvenience for the patients. The broader implications resonate with lower recruitment rates and increased trial dropout rates. Such challenges can lead to delays in achieving study outcomes, inadvertently escalating costs. The discussion also shed light on the inefficiencies associated with making amendments to an ongoing trial – an endeavor both costly and time-consuming.

AstraZeneca’s Response: The ‘Patient Burden Index’

To quantify patient burden, AstraZeneca has devised the ‘Patient Burden Index.’ A structured data collection approach encompassed surveys directed at program participants. Out of the 65 responses garnered, 56 were deemed valid after filtering anomalies. Conducted between July and September 2021, this endeavor aimed to pinpoint the primary drivers contributing to the perceived patient burden in clinical trials. Furthermore, a deep dive into patient preferences highlighted the need for a tailored approach based on age, geographic differences, and effective drug information dissemination. The survey was comprehensive, posing questions about specific procedures and presenting scenarios to gauge the participants’ perspectives on burdensome designs.

What Does The Data Show?

One of the standout segments of Agata Wiesiołek’s presentation was the in-depth exploration of patient preferences in clinical trials. The results, both intriguing and insightful, shed light on the evolving dynamics of patient-centricity.

  • Drug Collection: The Age Factor: A notable trend emerged when analyzing drug collection preferences by age. Older participants displayed a marked inclination towards on-site visits and delivery options. This highlights the significance of convenience and accessibility for this age group. On the flip side, as age increased, the affinity for other drug collection methods waned, reinforcing the importance of tailoring trial procedures to specific demographic needs.
  • Global Variations in Drug Collection: Diving into geographical nuances, distinct preferences surfaced across different countries. While certain nations aligned with the global trend of favoring on-site visits and deliveries, Japan stood out with its contrasting inclinations. Such disparities emphasize the necessity of a region-specific approach in global clinical trials, catering to local cultural and logistical factors.
  • The Drug Information Paradigm: When disseminating drug information to participants, the traditional approach of using basic leaflets seems to fall out of favor. Instead, explanations provided directly by personnel emerged as the top choice among respondents. This emphasizes the value participants place on personalized and direct interactions. However, the digital age’s influence is unmistakable, with video content being a popular secondary choice. Furthermore, the preference for interactive leaflet visuals accessible via apps or web portals suggests a blend of traditional and modern mediums is crucial for effective communication.


The data presented paints a vivid picture of the evolving landscape of patient preferences in clinical trials. As the industry continues to shift towards a more patient-centric model, understanding and integrating these insights becomes paramount. Tailoring procedures based on age, geography, and information dissemination preferences will be pivotal in designing successful, efficient, and participant-friendly trials in the future.