Skip to main content

CenterWatch Reveals Topline Results from its 2019 Global Clinical Trial Site Relationship Benchmark Survey

Survey examines sites’ views of their sponsor and clinical research organization (CRO) relationships

Falls Church, VA – Nov. 11, 2019 CenterWatch today announced the topline results from its 2019 Global Site Relationship Benchmark survey. This annual survey investigates clinical trial sites’ evaluations of their sponsor and CRO relationships and provides insights into possible areas for improvement. The 2019 benchmark reports include responses from more than 4,000 individuals representing investigative sites around the world.

“CenterWatch endeavors to help strengthen the relationships between clinical trial sites, sponsors and CROs by conducting an annual benchmarking survey that allows sites to share their perspectives on what is working and what needs to be improved in those partnerships. It provides valuable insights into ways of improving site/sponsor relationships and making them more successful. The survey results are used to generate Global Site Relationship Benchmark Reports that examine sponsor, CRO, and site productivity, and also industry trends,” said Cynthia Carter, President, Market Intelligence & Insights, WCG.

Sponsor Feedback

Respondents rated 49 sponsor companies based on their overall reputation in the industry. Then they evaluated 40 characteristics considered important to a successful working relationship with a sponsor.

Sites ranked the following 10 sponsor attributes as very important: the company has professional, knowledgeable and well-trained monitors/CRAs (66 percent); is organized and prepared (66 percent); provides good overall protocol design (65 percent); its staff is easily accessible (63 percent); it offers timely drug availability (63 percent), maintains open communication (61 percent); sets realistic project timelines (60 percent); is responsive to inquiries (60 percent); has professional medical staff in clinical operations (59 percent); and works effectively with CROs (57 percent). Only one of these attributes is new to the top 10 list this year – setting realistic timelines.

Sponsors performed well with respect to several of those top 10 attributes, especially those pertaining to training – “has professional medical staff, well-trained CRAs”, and “is organized and prepared”. They were also lauded for “maintaining open communication” and “offering timely drug availability”.

Areas cited for improvement include: “actively soliciting feedback on the protocol design”, “providing protocols that required minimal amendments”, “being flexible and willing to modify protocols/budgets”, “actively engaging patients/patient groups in protocol design”, and “supporting initiatives to help sites build stronger relationships with study volunteers”.

CRO Feedback

Respondents rated 29 CROs on their overall reputation in the industry. They were also asked to evaluate 37 characteristics considered important to a successful site-CRO working relationship.

Sites ranked the following CRO attributes as the 10 most important: it has well-trained monitors/CRAs (66 percent), is organized and prepared (66 percent), its staff is easily accessible (63 percent), it offers timely drug availability (63 percent), maintains open communication (61 percent), provides a clear study initiation visit and training (60 percent), has professional medical staff (59 percent), is responsive to inquiries (59 percent), works effectively with CROs/sponsors (57 percent), and sets realistic project timelines (49 percent).

CROs performed well with respect to several of those top 10 attributes, especially those relating to professionalism – having professional medical staff, well-trained CRAs, being organized and prepared, and having easily accessible staff – and communications – effectively using communication technologies, and maintaining open communication.

CROs received the lowest performance scores for payment-related attributes – providing prompt payment of grants, offering realistic grant payment schedules, providing adequate funding for patient recruitment, providing fair overall grant payment amounts – and flexibility and willingness to modify protocols and budgets.

An Executive Summary of the CenterWatch 2019 Global Site Relationship Benchmark Report for sponsors is available here, and the Executive Summary for CROs is available here. Sponsors and CROs who would like to receive a copy of the complete report or their company-specific results can contact James DeFalco at [email protected].


About CenterWatch Global Site Relationship Benchmark Reports

Now in their 20th year, these CenterWatch reports provide a view into sites’ relationships with their sponsors and CROs, taking a deep dive into what is most important to sites and how they evaluate the performance of the major players in the industry. These data-driven reports are the industry’s definitive resource to drive ongoing improvement in sponsor/CRO-site collaboration.

About CenterWatch

Since 1994, CenterWatch, has been the recognized global publishing leader in providing clinical trials information to a broad and influential spectrum of clinical research professionals ranging from top sponsors and CROs to research sites and niche providers, as well as an engaged population of patients interested in clinical research and volunteering. CenterWatch joined the WCG family of companies in June 2016. For more information, visit

About WCG

WCG is a global leader of solutions that measurably improve and accelerate clinical research. Biopharmaceutical and medical device companies, contract research organizations (CROs), research institutions, and sites partner with us for our unmatched expertise, data intelligence, and purpose-built technology to make informed decisions and optimize study outcomes, while maintaining the highest standards of human participant protection. WCG raises the bar by pioneering new concepts, reimagining processes, fostering compliance and safety, and empowering those who perform clinical trials to accelerate the delivery of medical therapies and devices that improve lives. For more information, please visit or follow us on LinkedIn or X @WCGClinical.