Trial Participation in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Barriers and Facilitators: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Daphne N. Weemering, Anita Beelen, Tessa Kliest, Lucie A.G. van Leeuwen, Leonard H. van den Berg, Ruben P.A. van Eijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Clinical trials in neurodegenerative diseases often encounter selective enrollment and under-representation of certain patient populations. This delays drug development and substantially limits the generalizability of clinical trial results. To inform recruitment and retention strategies, and to better understand the generalizability of clinical trial populations, we investigated which factors drive participation. METHODS: We reviewed the literature systematically to identify barriers to and facilitators of trial participation in 4 major neurodegenerative disease areas: Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Huntington disease. Inclusion criteria included original research articles published in a peer-reviewed journal and evaluating barriers to and/or facilitators of participation in a clinical trial with a drug therapy (either symptomatic or disease-modifying). The Critical Appraisal Skills Program checklist for qualitative studies was used to assess and ensure the quality of the studies. Qualitative thematic analyses were employed to identify key enablers of trial participation. Subsequently, we pooled quantitative data of each enabler using meta-analytical models. RESULTS: Overall, we identified 36 studies, enrolling a cumulative sample size of 5,269 patients, caregivers, and health care professionals. In total, the thematic analysis resulted in 31 unique enablers of trial participation; the key factors were patient-related (own health benefit and altruism), study-related (treatment and study burden), and health care professional-related (information availability and patient-physician relationship). When meta-analyzed across studies, responders reported that the reason to participate was mainly driven by (1) the relationship with clinical staff (70% of the respondents; 95% CI 53%-83%), (2) the availability of study information (67%, 95% CI 38%-87%), and (3) the use or absence of a placebo or sham-control arm (53% 95% CI 32%-72%). There was, however, significant heterogeneity between studies (all p < 0.001). DISCUSSION: We have provided a comprehensive list of reasons why patients participate in clinical trials for neurodegenerative diseases. These results may help to increase participation rates, better inform patients, and facilitate patient-centric approaches, thereby potentially reducing selection mechanisms and improving generalizability of trial results.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere209503
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2024


Dive into the research topics of 'Trial Participation in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Barriers and Facilitators: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this