Successful study recruitment involves development and implementation of a well-coordinated plan that may require the efforts of the entire research team. Once in place, subject recruitment efforts must be constantly assessed, with new strategies implemented as necessary.
Some strategies for recruitment include:
Direct Advertising – Direct advertising for research participants, i.e., advertising that is intended to be seen or heard by prospective participants to solicit their participation in a study includes, but is not necessarily limited to: newspaper, radio, TV, bulletin boards, posters, and flyers that are intended for prospective participants. Only flyers that have been approved and stamped by CPHS may be used. Flyers may only be placed within designated areas.
Social Media Advertising - Researchers may choose to advertise to targeted audience on social media platforms including Facebook. For assistance with advertising on Facebook contact email@example.com.
Clinical Data Warehouse- The Clinical Data Warehouse is intended to provide UTHealth investigators with a single source for obtaining access to vast amounts of clinical data available in various systems. The data can be used for multiple research tasks including preparatory research, cohort identification, and data mining on clinical records. i2b2 software is the backbone of the UTHealth CDW and it helps support de-identified browsing of patient data to allow easy identification of patient cohorts. More information here.
UT Health Clinical Trials webpage – A list of actively recruiting research studies is maintained on the CTRC website. Research studies are listed by disease areas. For listing your research study on this page please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Texas Medical Center Clinical Trials Website – http://www.tmc.edu/clinical-research/
Clinical Trials Registry –gov is a registry of federally and privately supported clinical trials conducted in the United States and around the world. ClinicalTrials.gov contains information about a trial's purpose, who may participate, locations, and phone numbers for more details. Registration of certain clinical trials is mandatory. Contact email@example.com for registration information.
Research Match - ResearchMatch is a recruitment tool that helps connect volunteers with researchers who are searching for appropriate volunteers to be placed in their research studies. Researchers at participating sites will be given access to register through the ResearchMatch system. Upon registration, researchers may request either feasibility or recruitment access. The ResearchMatch database will send invitation notices to volunteers who match the eligibility criteria for the research. To gain Recruitment Access, the study team may contact the UT Houston’s institutional liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Research Match website.
Study Website - Study teams may set up a website for the research study. This is especially helpful for large scale multi-center studies. Paying search engines like Google to place the research study at the top of the search list as a ‘sponsored link’ helps direct interested potential participants to the study website.
Dear Doctor Letters – It is sometimes helpful to send information about the research study to physicians who might see potential participants in their practice. These letters should include a brief description of the research study, eligibility criteria, location of the study and contact information for the physician to call if they need more information and to refer the potential participant. Communications directed to colleagues do not require IRB approval, but this method of recruitment should be stated in the protocol.
Dear Patient Letters - The PI may ask physician colleagues to send out general “Dear Patient” letters describing the study. The PI may draft the letter to be signed by the treating physician’s signature, but may not have access to the patient names or the mailing addresses. If the PI wants the letters to be individualized for the patients, the personalized information would have to be entered by the treating physician.
Community Outreach – There are several organizations that offer support to patients with specific diseases. Many of these groups offer a variety of resources and services to patients. The study team may work with the support group relevant to their research and place direct advertising in the group’s website or newsletter. If the investigator is planning to use a business, listserv, school, agency, etc. to recruit subjects, the IRB will need to see a letter from that organization giving the investigator permission to recruit.
For more information visit:
Clinical Trials Resource Center (CTRC)
7000 Fannin Street, Suite 795
Houston, Texas 77030