As you can imagine, we see lots of screeners! We have to go through them in detail to see what patient types and subtypes you want, and to clean them up for our programmers. Screener writing is an art, and there are many things you are trying to do with your screeners. I wanted to provide a few tips from our point of view as your recruiter.
It really helps if at the beginning of the screener, you have a summary of criteria – this beats having to try to figure it out by going through the screener logic!
In so many of our studies, clients want both patients and caregivers. The best way to do this is with a straightforward question: Are you the patient or the caregiver? Sometimes clients think logically but are too clever. They ask if you have been diagnosed with the disease. If you say “no,” they take you down the caregiver path. That is logical, but here’s why it causes problems. Caregivers are used to answering questions on behalf of the patient. They do this with health care professionals all the time. So, when they see a question asking if they have been diagnosed with hemophilia, for example, they assume they should answer yes, on behalf of their child. So, avoid this problem, just ask is they are a patient or caregiver. When we see this issue, we’ll change it for you!
Don’t hide things, such as homework, buried in the screener. We need to let patients know if there are additional tasks, and we need to increase their compensation, so let us know, put that in the summary at the beginning of the screener.
Do you really want to terminate on a question? Often certain answers are marked, “terminate,” but when asked, the client will say, we may be able to give on that, so don’t terminate, take them to the end of the screener. We need to know that, otherwise we’ll program to terminate as it says on the screener. Good to note this on the screener and bring it up during a kickoff call.
It is best to confirm any “oddball” items. For example, we had a study recently where the client came to us to recruit for one disease. The screener mentioned two diseases. The client already had filled the quota on the second disease. But our PM saw both diseases in the screener and assumed the client wanted both from us. To avoid these mistakes, please mention when something is a bit out of the ordinary. Another great reason to have a kickoff call!
Finally, if you’re like me, when you create a screener you start with another screener and cut and paste. That is fine. But please be careful. Sometimes people leave in items from the screener they are copying from that don’t belong. Please double check!
I’m interested in your tips and tricks for screeners as well. Please comment to this post and share your tips!