Introduction: Low rates of enrollment into stroke clinical trials are an ongoing challenge for the stroke research community. We sought to retrospectively describe the association between medical eligibility and recruitment rates for two acute clinical trials.
Methods: Within a population of 1.3 million, we screened local hospital admissions in 2010 using ICD-9 discharge codes 430-436, and performed chart review. Within the region are 15 adult acute care hospitals, all of which are covered by the same stroke team for clinical care and trial enrollment. Medical eligibility, the number of eligible patients/total number of patients, was calculated for the IMS-III trial and the CLEAR-ER trials using their inclusion/exclusion criteria. The number of patients enrolled in the trial per month of open enrollment was determined for each hospital. Statistical analysis included paired signed rank test and regression.
Results: In 2010, 2035 ischemic strokes (IS) were hospitalized in the region. Regional medical eligibility was 1.7% for IMS III and 4.5% for CLEARER (p=0.001), overall regional hospital enrollment/month was 0.81 for IMS III and 1.84 for CLEAR-ER (p=0.001). Eligibility rates per hospital ranged from 0-9.5%, and recruitment rates per hospital/mo ranged from 0-0.38. Hospital-level eligibility and recruitment rates were significantly correlated (see figure for both trials combined, adjusted r2 = 0.57, p<0.001.)
Discussion: Within our population, medical eligibility explained 57% of the variability in hospital-level enrollment rates for two acute IS trials. The use of population-based epidemiology in trial planning may identify optimal trial enrollment criteria, which must be weighed against proper patient selection. Many other factors impact enrollment rates, such as competing trials, which were not considered here. Further evaluation of our population-based eligibility rates in sites outside our region and with additional clinical trials is needed.