Clinical trial? Research study? Medical trial? Medical study? Research trial? Paid study?

It helps to use the same language as your customers.

As part of the UCSF Clinical Trials website, we worked hard to make the language as accessible as possible, particularly in text that will be seen by search engine users. The most important phrase on the site is, obviously, clinical trials. But is that the wording our users actually use? Google Trends to the rescue!

I used Google Trends to see what language the general public uses to look for trials. And as it turns out, it’s complicated.

While clinical trial is most searched-for term among Google users across the U.S., it’s closely trailed by research study, followed by a bevy of lesser-used terms. (Not all research studies are clinical trials, but patients sometimes use these and other terms interchangeably.)

UCSF has locations both in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Fresno. And in Fresno, research studies is actually more popular than clinical trials.

via Google Trends search for clinical trials vs. research studies

But it’s not just a matter of those two terms. I tried using Google Trends to explore the relative number of searches for a wide variety of popular synonyms for clinical trials. Every one of the terms are used.

So while we will continue to use clinical trials across our clinical trials website, we’ve been making increasing use of alternate terms in places where it makes sense, to reflect the language that our users prefer.