Alzheimer's disease (AD) research is at a critical time. The global society is increasingly aware of the frightening rate of growth of the human and financial burden caused by this condition and of the urgent need to halt its progression. Consequently, the scientific community holds great responsibility to quickly put in place and optimize the machinery necessary for testing new treatments or interventions. In this context demand for participants for AD research is at an all-time high. In this review, we will focus on a methodological factor that is increasingly recognized as a key factor that shapes trial populations and affects validity of results in clinical trials: patient engagement, recruitment, and retention. We outline specific problems relevant to patient engagement in AD including recruiting enough participants, difficulties in participant retention, ensuring the recruited sample is representative of the general AD population, the burden of screening failures, and new challenges related to recruiting in preclinical disease. To address the urgent need for more research studying the applicability and cost-effectiveness of different recruitment strategies across different settings and nationalities, we describe the Models of Patient Engagement for Alzheimer's Disease (MOPEAD) project, a public-private partnership promoted by the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI), which will provide a large multinational quantitative analysis comparing different innovative recruitment models. We also discuss strategies that address each problem and draw on the experience of Fundació ACE to argue that focusing resources on comprehensive AD centers that offer coordinated clinical and social care and participate in basic and clinical research, is an effective and efficient way of implementing many of the discussed strategies.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Fundació ACE; MOPEAD; clinical trials; community outreach; patient engagement; recruitment; retention.