Background/aims: Community engagement is widely acknowledged as an important step in clinical trials. One underexplored method for engagement in clinical trials is crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing involves having community members attempt to solve a problem and then publicly sharing innovative solutions. We designed and conducted a pilot using a crowdsourcing approach to obtain community feedback on an HIV clinical trial, called the Acceptability of Combined Community Engagement Strategies Study. In this work, we describe and assess the Acceptability of Combined Community Engagement Strategies Study's crowdsourcing activities in order to examine the opportunities of crowdsourcing as a clinical trial community engagement strategy.
Methods: The crowdsourcing engagement activities involved in the Acceptability of Combined Community Engagement Strategies Study were conducted in the context of a phase 1 HIV antibody trial (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03803605). We designed a series of crowdsourcing activities to collect feedback on three aspects of this clinical trial: the informed consent process, the experience of participating in the trial, and fairness/reciprocity in HIV clinical trials. All crowdsourcing activities were open to members of the general public 18 years of age or older, and participation was solicited from the local community. A group discussion was held with representatives of the clinical trial team to obtain feedback on the utility of crowdsourcing as a community engagement strategy for informing future clinical trials.
Results: Crowdsourcing activities made use of innovative tools and a combination of in-person and online participation opportunities to engage community members in the clinical trial feedback process. Community feedback on informed consent was collected by transforming the clinical trial's informed consent form into a series of interactive video modules, which were screened at an open public discussion. Feedback on the experience of trial participation involved designing three fictional vignettes which were then transformed into animated videos and screened at an open public discussion. Finally, feedback on fairness/reciprocity in HIV clinical trials was collected using a crowdsourcing idea contest with online and in-person submission opportunities. Our public discussion events were attended by 38 participants in total; our idea contest received 43 submissions (27 in-person, 16 online). Facebook and Twitter metrics demonstrated substantial engagement in the project. The clinical team found crowdsourcing primarily useful for enhancing informed consent and trial recruitment.
Conclusion: There is sufficient lay community interest in open calls for feedback on the design and conduct of clinical trials, making crowdsourcing both a novel and feasible engagement strategy. Clinical trial researchers are encouraged to consider the opportunities of implementing crowdsourcing to inform trial processes from a community perspective.
Keywords: Community engagement; HIV; clinical trials; crowdsourcing; good participatory practice.