Written by Jack Beecher, TrialJourney Data Analyst
“The clinical trials landscape in Phoenix as described by the TrialJourney dataset shows the unmistakeable effect of Mayo Clinic's focus on high quality research, while clearly showing there are strong alternatives in the region as well,” said Dr. Irfan Khan, CEO of Circuit Clinical. “Our hope is that this information is of use to everyone involved in the healthcare spectrum, from administrators to patients, as we strive to increase access to and awareness of clinical research as a care option."
Phoenix was ranked by Nielsen as the 12th-largest designated market area (DMA) in the country in 20173 and has a population of 4,737,2704. Despite this, more clinical trials have been conducted in several cities with both smaller populations and lower DMA ranks than Phoenix, according to TrialJourney™, a powerful and dynamic platform that helps patients find, choose, and rate their clinical trial experiences. These cities include San Diego (with a population of 3,140,069), Raleigh (with 2,238,315 residents), Columbus (2,509,850), St. Louis (2,909,777), Denver (3,572,798), and Minneapolis (3,977,790)1,3,4,5.
An estimated 9,738 clinical trials have been conducted in Phoenix since the beginning of their tracking. As seen in the map above, these trials are distributed across the greater Phoenix area, which includes neighboring cities such as Scottsdale, Mesa, Glendale, and Temple among others. Phoenix’s most comparable cities with respect to trial volume over this period of time include Pittsburgh (with 8,832), Portland (9,172), Tampa (9,597), San Diego (9,776), and Raleigh (10,699)1. Phoenix’s population exceeds that of all of these cities; notably, its population is more than twice that of Raleigh’s, yet has fewer trials4,5. Seattle is relatively similar to Phoenix in population, yet it boasts almost 7,000 more studies over the same timespan than Phoenix, with 16,4751,4,5.
Within Phoenix, the Mayo Clinic conducts the most clinical trials, accounting for more than a quarter of all trials in the city in 20181. The Mayo Clinic also more than doubled the totals of the second-most active system in Phoenix last year, with approximately 514 active* trials versus 214 for Banner Health1. Phoenix’s clinical trials are concentrated among a relatively small number of health systems; the five most active systems (listed below) accounted for about 57.4% of its trials in 20181:
Interestingly, only three individual locations in Phoenix conducted more than 100 trials in 2018: the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital1. Further, a total of only fourteen locations in Phoenix conducted 30 or more clinical trials in 20181. Aside from the three aforementioned hospitals (which had 301, 212, and 134 active trials last year, respectively), other notable locations in Phoenix include St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, the HonorHealth Research Institute at HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center, the Barrow Neurological Institute, the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, and the Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix1. Several of these sites have shown demonstrable trial growth as well; of note, the Mayo Clinic Hospital grew from 57 active studies in 2008 to 212 in 2018, Phoenix Children’s Hospital from 66 to 134 over the same time span, the HonorHealth Shea Research Institute from two in 2009 to 77 in 2018, and the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert from a single study in 2010 to 70 in 20181.
Among the individual, non-hospital locations outside of health systems, the Barrow Neurological Institute reigns supreme with 75 active studies conducted last year. The next most active of these sites include Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates in Paradise Valley with 45, Arizona Oncology at Phoenix’s Biltmore Cancer Center with 37, Ironwood Cancer and Research Center in Chandler with 31, and 21st Century Neurology with 27. The next tier then includes Elite Clinical Studies, Arizona Research Center, and Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates in Mesa, among others. Of these, the Paradise Valley location of Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates (nine active studies in 2008 to 45 in 2018), the aforementioned Ironwood location (three in 2009 to 31 in 2018), and Barrow (46 in 2008 to 75 in 2018) have demonstrated the most growth over the past decade1.
More recent analyses of the TrialJourney database indicate that Phoenix has a current total of 2,462 active clinical trials. Additionally, 1,292 (52.5%) of these trials are currently recruiting for participation2. The Mayo Clinic is still Phoenix’s most active health system for clinical trials, with 572 currently active trials and 299 (51.4% of its total) recruiting trials, comprising 23.6% of Phoenix’s active clinical trials and 23.1% of its recruiting trials. The Scottsdale location of the Mayo Clinic currently has the most active trials of all research centers in Phoenix, with 340 active trials (148, or 43.5%, of them recruiting). This hospital accounts for 58.4% and 49.5% of the Mayo Clinic’s active and recruiting trials in Phoenix, as well as 13.8% and 11.5% of the entire city’s active and recruiting trials, respectively. As for the Mayo Clinic’s hospital in Phoenix, there are currently 231 clinical trials that are active (147, or 63.6%, of them recruiting); this hospital respectively accounts for 40% and 49.2% of the Mayo Clinic’s active and recruiting trials in the greater Phoenix area, as well as 9.4% and 11.4% of the city’s active and recruiting trials2.**
Despite the bright spots in Phoenix’s clinical trial landscape, the overall takeaway is that based on being a metropolitan area with as large of a population that it has, one would believe that more trials would have been conducted. Similar amounts of trials have been conducted in other cities with significantly smaller populations than Phoenix.
*Active in 2018 = Active at any point in 2018 (Start date of study is before 12/31/2018 and end date is after 1/1/2018)
**As part of our ongoing quality assurance process, we've enhanced and improved our trial accounting algorithm in order to capture clinical trials with inconclusive and/or unstated completion dates.