Using Infographics to Increase Understanding of Clinical Trials

Infographic by Hot Butter Studio

According to Centerwatch and CISCRP, 94 percent of people recognize the importance of participating in clinical research in order to assist in the advancement of medical science; and yet, 75 percent say that they have little to no knowledge about how the clinical research process works, or how to participate in it.

For many patients, information about clinical trials, whether online or offline, can be difficult to come by. It's a given that deciding whether or not to participate in a clinical trial is a complicated process, with many risks and benefits to consider. The decision-making process is only made more difficult when, as clinical research professionals, we fail to make information available in a clear, friendly and accessible manner.

It has become apparent that traditional methods of communicating about clinical trials are not working well enough. What is yet to be fully explored is how new, digital forms of communication might help bridge the gaps of awareness, understanding and knowledge that exist to inform patients who might wish to participate in clinical research.

So, let's take a look at how some clinical researchers are turning to more modern methods of information-sharing, like social media and infographics.

What is an Infographic?

Infographics are visual representations of complex information. They are designed to help readers digest data and high-level concepts easily and quickly, making them an ideal medium for our fast-paced, information-overloaded world. The best infographics are also attractive, compelling and easy-to-share with others through social media sites, which means they can help to raise awareness about a given topic among a large number of people in a short amount of time.

Given the abundance of information and complex topics within healthcare, infographics can be an extremely valuable communication tool for hospitals and research centers. In fact, many are already sharing infographics about diseases, treatments, clinical trials and more on popular social networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest.


Earlier this week, a quick Pinterest search turned up a wide range of healthcare infographics, covering everything from the drug development process to social media tips for healthcare providers.  Only a handful covered the topic of clinical trials specifically, meaning there's a huge opportunity for creating more visually compelling content for potential clinical research volunteers. Here are few examples that do a great job of simplifying the drug development and clinical trial process:

1. FDA Drug Development Process


This infographic from the PKD Foundation outlines the FDA's drug development and approval process from conception to post-approval observational studies. It's a great starting point for people who want to understand how clinical trials fit into the overall development process.

2. Understanding the Phases of Clinical Trials

clinical trials process

For those who'd like to delve a little deeper into the world of clinical trials specifically, this infographic from Clinical Trials GPS offers a great, detailed overview of each phase of a trial.



3. Treating Diabetes with Technology


This infographic from Medtronic lays out the details of a specific clinical trial for a treatment related to diabetes in a visually appealing format. This method could be a huge help to patients as they seek to understand a trial they're interested in before signing an informed consent document.


How Do You Feel About Infographics?

Do you think you're more likely to read information about clinical trials when it's presented in an easy-to-read visual format? What worked and didn't work for you when you looked at the examples above?

Tell us what you think, and share some of your favorite examples of clinical research-related infographics in the comments section below. Your input could help us come up with new ideas for communicating more effectively about clinical trials.

If you'd like to become even further involved in re-imagining how clinical trial information is presented, sign up for our Clinical Trial Visualization Redesign Challenge. Submissions are due October 2.