Before a clinical trial can start, everyone on the team needs to understand the research and their own role in it. Good training can support a successful result and going virtual can do it faster and more cost-effectively. Here are five tips.
Training the site team is one of the most important elements of the process leading up to site activation. Not only is it essential for ensuring everyone involved in the research knows the aims and what their tasks are, but high-quality training can also motivate teams and help the trial run more smoothly from start to finish.
Here are five ideas for making sure (virtual) training is engaging, efficient and effective.
1. Don’t put everything in the training session
Before a clinical trial starts, the study team will need to go through a lot of information. The trial protocol, information about the disease, background on the intervention being tested, and many other things could be important for the team to be familiar with. But altogether, this could be an overwhelming amount of input – especially for a busy healthcare professional.
Before designing the training, it’s a good idea to think about what really needs to be shared during the session, and what can be communicated in a different way. PowerPoint may not be the most effective tool for relaying the years of background research that might be pertinent to a trial.
If you’re sharing information ahead of the training session, you could also include a homework element to ensure the participants have read and understood the information.
2. Know your audience
This raises an important consideration, namely the people who you need to train. Who are they, and what are they doing besides the clinical trial? Here are some examples of how you might prepare the training to meet the needs of the participants.
Healthcare professionals are probably busy, so they are unlikely to have a lot of time to digest vast amounts of information. Think about how you could simplify what they need to know and make it memorable, then give them access to additional details if they want to explore them.
People likely to leave their positions could pass on their tasks to their replacements easily if those tasks were explained simply and clearly and if they had documents outlining the role. There will naturally be turnover in a team; you can preempt this and ensuring a smooth handover by taking it into account in the training.
Those with access needs. People learn in different ways, and you can accommodate this by understanding their needs and adjusting your training. For example, some may need a transcript for audio content so they can read along, while others may need an audio version of written content.
3. Deliver the training online
In pre-pandemic days, site training would usually happen in-person, often at the site, and could take place over multiple days. This could be a very slow and potentially expensive process. What’s more, it can be difficult to get a whole team together physically in one place, especially if they work different shifts.
One of the benefits of the pandemic has been the impact on the way trials are run – for example, the proliferation of decentralized trials. It is much more common – and even expected – for training to happen online now. This can have a positive impact on the participants and the trial itself.
– The participants don’t need to attend an in-person meeting, which could save them travel time and costs. They would also have the opportunity to access all the related information online during the training session and ask questions.
– For the trial, online training can mean less budget needs to be allocated to it.
If your training is online, you could also consider offering it on-demand – at least in part. This could be even more convenient for the participants and ensure that everyone has access to the training.
4. Get creative with the method of delivery
There’s more to training than a PowerPoint presentation. They can be very helpful for taking an audience through basic information or the main steps of a protocol, for example, but you risk losing people’s attention if there is too much information or too many slides. The general guidance for an engaging presentation is to have about one slide per minute, with more images than text, and sparing animation that’s useful and interesting.
Try keeping people engaged by using different approaches. If most of the training is guided by a presentation, break it up into ten-minute pieces, with interactive elements in between. Video, Q&A, role play, quizzes or polls could be useful elements to consider.
5. Ask for participants’ feedback
Satisfied team members are key to a successful clinical trial. Done well, study team training could be a valuable professional development opportunity for staff that could enhance their experience in their role. It is also possible to prepare the training in a way that improves job satisfaction and reduces turnover. One of the key approaches is to ask for feedback.
By inviting team members to share their questions, comments and concerns – and, crucially, following up on them – you can show that they are valued and respected.