Recruitment of Research Participants

Recruitment refers to the overall process of attracting and selecting suitable candidates for a project. Recruitment of subjects represents the beginning of the informed consent process and is one of the most challenging parts of research with human subjects. It can be conducted through newspapers, email, posters, brochures, by internet, radio or television announcements, or by soliciting volunteers in public spaces.

The pressure to enroll subjects, especially in biomedical research, raises ethical challenges for investigators and research staff. All recruitment efforts must respect personal rights to privacy and confidentiality and be compliant with applicable regulations (FDA, OHRP, and HIPAA).

Recruitment Materials

When a project requires IRB review, all recruitment materials must be reviewed as part of the study. Recruitment materials generated by USC research personnel must be submitted to the IRB for review and approval before they can be used.

Recruitment materials should include:

  • Accurate description of the research purpose
  • Name and address of the investigator or facility (including university affiliation and/or department)
  • Condition under study or purpose of the research
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Time commitments required
  • Location of the research
  • Person to contact for further information

Do not include:

  • Coercive language
  • Claims that a device or drug is safe and effective
  • The words “new treatment,” “new medication,” or “new drug” if the test article is investigational
  • Promises of “free medical treatment”
  • Amount of payment, dollar signs, or the words “free” in large or bold face type
  • Compensation should not be excessive relative to the nature of the project
  • Statements or implications assuring favorable outcome or other benefits beyond what is outlined in the consent document and protocol
  • Claims, either explicitly or implicitly, that the test article is known to be equivalent or superior to any other drug, biologic, or device
  • Exculpatory language

 Articles and Guidance on Recruitment

Toolkit for Developing Community Partnerships
Frequently Asked Questions about Community-Engaged Research
Community Engaged Research 101 (video)
Principles of Community Engagement

Clinical Research Recruitment

Recruiting Study Participants through Your Website | First Clinical
Setting up a strong social media recruitment program | Quorum
Embracing Social Media in Research | Quorum Webinar Recording
Using Facebook to Improve Recruitment and Retention in Clinical Trials | Quorum
Patient Empowerment Key To Trial Recruitment, Report Finds | PharmaTimes
FDA Info Sheet: IRB Review of Study Recruitment Materials
NIH Clinical Trial Recruitment – ResearchMatch
Patient Recruitment for Special Populations | CenterWatch