We just launched our new editorial section. Xtalks Vitals is news, blogs, videos, quizzes and more!


Which States Are Proactively Using Google Search to Join Clinical Trials?

Finding clinical trial participants who are ready to join a clinical study can be a huge bottleneck in the clinical trial process. While non-online recruitment methods continue to be strong, using digital outreach tactics for patient recruitment campaigns are becoming a common way to find patients for clinical studies. Methods such as display advertising, affiliate marketing, search engine marketing and social media campaigns/advertising will likely start to play a major role in patient recruitment campaigns.

Fortunately for patient recruitment professionals, most online advertising methods allow for the targeting of locations for advertising campaigns. While a lot of factors play a role in where you should be advertising, we thought it might be interesting to determine which states are already the most actively engaged in seeking out participation in a clinical trial – at least, for potential healthy volunteers.

Inspired by an old article on google trends and pharma competitive intelligence by Sally Church from the Pharma Strategy Blog, we used google trends to search some of the most relevant and popular keywords or keyphrases that individuals/healthy volunteers might search when trying to join a clinical trial. While some keywords or keyphrases, such as, “join a clinical trial” may seem like the perfect search term, unfortunately, there isn’t enough search volume to show these data. If all member states were equal in terms of search trends, you might expect that the most populated states would perform the best across each search term. While that hypothesis is partially true, we found some surprises from a few states and cities. Take a look at the navigation section below for each of the search terms we analyzed. Written comments are reflective of google trend analysis as of the publication of this article. As this article ages, these data will automatically update. Did we miss any important search terms? Let us know in the comments section!


“PAID CLINICAL TRIALS” (Avg. Monthly Searches: 1600)

Aside from Texas, the four most populated states: CA, TX, FL, NY, were underrepresented when using the term “paid clinical trials”. This search term was most popular in Missouri, then Texas, Maryland and Massachusetts. Looking at cities: San Antonio, Austin and Huston took the top 3 spots.

Surprises: Missouri (the 18th most populated state), Maryland (19th most populated state) and Massachusetts (14th most populated state) outperformed most of the largest states for the search term, “paid clinical trials”. Is this due to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD, and the large proportion of academic medical centers in Massachusetts? Why is Missouri searching for this term the most out of any state?

See real-time data for the search term, “paid clinical trials” here

“PAID RESEARCH STUDIES” (Avg. Monthly Searches: 1900)

Although the search term, “paid research studies” shares search hits from people who are looking to participate in non-clinical research (market research for example), we decided to include this term in our analysis . Missouri and Maryland are again in the top 2 with Pennsylvania (i.e. Pittsburgh (1) & Philadelphia (2)) rounding out the top 3 states for individuals searching for “paid research studies”. Austin, TX wraps up the top 3 for cities that search most for the term, “paid research studies”

Surprises: Minnesota (21st most populated state) ranks fourth and Massachusets (14th most populated state) ranks 5th. Why?

See real-time data for the search term, “paid research studies” here

“MEDICAL RESEARCH STUDIES” (Avg. Monthly Searches: 590)

We’re starting to develop a pattern here. Missouri and Massachusetts are in the top 3 again, this time, with Arizona and Texas (again) in the top 4. Finally, St. Louis shows up in city analysis.

Surprises: Besides Texas, where are all the searches from the most populated states so far: California? Florida? New York?

See real-time data for the search term, “medical research studies” here

“CLINICAL RESEARCH STUDIES” (Avg. Montly Searches: 390)

Although the search term, “clinical research studies” may have some cross-over with people searching for information about or on a specific type of clinical research study, this search term still reveals a large proportion of the population who may want to take part in clinical studies. The state who searched for “clinical research studies” the most was again, was Missouri, followed by Texas then Maryland. Cities who search for this term the most were all located within Texas: San Antonio, Austin, Houston. Maryland, again, ranks high, likely due to the NIH Clinical Center located in Bethesda, MD.

Surprises: What is Missouri (18th most populated state) doing in the top 3 again? Do you have an idea? Let us know in the comments below.



See real-time data for the search term, “clinical research studies” here

“CLINICAL TRIALS.GOV” (Avg. Monthly Searches: 14 800)

Take note that the search term with no space, “clinicaltrials.gov” (Avg. monthly searches: 8100) is actually searched less than the search term, “clinical trials.gov” (Avg. monthly Searches: 14800) with the space added between clinical and trials.gov. While the search term, “clinical trials.gov” may be used by individuals looking for information on how to join clinical trials, search numbers are likely skewed due to researchers actively searching for this term. Maryland is the state who searches for this term the most (likely due to the NIH Clinical Center located in Bethesda, MD). This is followed by Massachusetts, then Connecticut. The top cities searching for the term “clinicaltrials.gov” are Bethesda, MD (as discussed above), followed by Cambridge, MA and Boston, MA (perhaps due to concentrated searches from MIT and Harvard).

Surprises: What is Conneticut (29th most populated state) doing in the top 3 states searching for clinical trials.gov?

See real-time data for the search term, “clinical trials.gov” here

“CANCER CLINICAL TRIALS” (Avg. Monthly Searches: 480)

Similar to the search term, “clinical trials.gov”, “Cancer Clinical Trials” reveals similar state ranking results. Maryland is the state who searches for this term the most (likely due to the NIH Clinical Center located in Bethesda, MD). This is followed by Massachusetts then, Connecticut. Boston searches for “cancer clinical trials” the most (as noted above), followed by Philadelphia then Washington.

Surprises: Connecticut ranks fairly high for the 29th most populated state. Does Washington (esp. District of Columbia) rank high because of political and policy related search queries?

See real-time data for the search term, “cancer clinical trials” here