DPharm 2023 has come to a close, and as we reflect on the sessions and insights shared, two themes clearly stood out this year: The participant experience and incentives for participants. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into these central areas of discussion.

The participant experience: A key consideration

It’s no surprise that the participant experience took centre stage at DPharm 2023. In recent years, there's been a growing understanding that the success of any clinical trial hinges not just on its scientific premise but also on its design and execution. A significant part of that execution is ensuring that participants, who are at the core of any trial, have a positive, smooth, and user-friendly experience.

Several speakers at DPharm 2023 emphasised the need for a human first approach. Instead of treating participants merely as data points, the call was to recognise their essential humanity. This means understanding the various challenges they face when participating in a trial, from logistical issues like transportation and scheduling to more intangible concerns like fear and anxiety.

New tools and technologies were showcased that aim to make the trial process more transparent and accessible. Virtual trials were lauded as a significant step forward in this regard. Moreover, streamlined apps and platforms that provide real-time feedback, updates, and assistance were among the highlighted innovations aimed at elevating the participant experience. And of course, much discussion centred on AI’s role in improving clinical trials, including the patient experience, as well. 

Incentives for participants: Beyond monetary rewards

The second theme, closely tied to the first, was the discussion on incentives. It's well-understood that incentives can play a crucial role in recruitment and retention. DPharm 2023 aimed to explore this topic with more nuance.

While monetary rewards are a common incentive, there's been a move towards more holistic incentives that address both tangible and intangible benefits. For instance, flexible scheduling or transportation support can serve as direct, practical incentives. But just as valuable are the intangible incentives – creating a sense of community among participants, offering them comprehensive health updates, or simply ensuring that they feel heard and valued throughout the trial process.

Several panel discussions at DPharm touched upon the ethics of incentives. The consensus was clear: Incentives should never compromise the safety or autonomy of the participant. Instead, they should be tools that augment the participant experience, ensuring that individuals are motivated to join and remain committed to a trial because they genuinely see its value and feel respected throughout.


DPharm 2023 has reinforced the industry's commitment to participants. It's heartening to see the shift from merely viewing participants as necessary components of a trial to recognising them as valuable collaborators whose experience and well-being are paramount. This change in perspective, backed by innovative tools and thoughtful incentives, bodes well for the future of clinical trials.

Overall, one key message from the conference was clear: By prioritising the participant experience and offering meaningful incentives, the clinical trial industry is not just ensuring smoother trials but also building stronger, more trusting relationships with the very individuals who make these trials possible.

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