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Recruitment

Adequate recruitment is vital to the success of your registry. As such, researchers should dedicate sufficient staff time, budget, and resources to planning and conducting recruitment and enrollment activities.

  • Planning for Recruitment

    The information you learn from your formative research and conversations with stakeholder partners can help you design your registry in a way that will promote participation. You should design recruitment and enrollment processes that address the barriers and concerns of potential participants and speak to factors that may motivate them to join. In general, you should strive to make it easy for participants to enroll.

    For example:

    • If you find that transportation is a barrier for an in-person enrollment visit, you might explore online or phone enrollment processes, providing transportation or reimbursing transportation costs, or conducting enrollment visits at a community organization.
    • If you find that scheduling is a barrier for an in-person enrollment visit, you might explore offering evening or weekend appointments, providing childcare, or providing options to enroll online.
    • If you find that altruism is a motivating factor, you might design recruitment materials that emphasize the potential to help others through participating in research
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    UNC-Chapel Hill Tips and Tricks: Recruitment

  • Recruiting Diverse Populations

    Health disparities exist for many different health conditions 1 and response to treatment can vary among different groups of people by characteristics such as race/ethnicity and sex.2, 3, 4 Diversity among research participants is important, because studies with diverse participants can be applied to wider populations and have greater ability to benefit the general public.

    Despite the fact that United States federally funded research is required to emphasize including women and minorities as research participants (for more information, see NIH policy implementation page), women and racial/ethnic minorities continue to be under-represented2, 5.

    Researchers can be proactive by considering diversity when planning their recruitment process, and continuing to evaluate the diversity of participants throughout enrollment. Remember that in addition to race, ethnicity, and sex, diversity encompasses other characteristics including gender, age, socioeconomic status, and geography.

    Populations that are underrepresented among registry participants may require targeted recruitment efforts. Strategies to consider for recruiting underrepresented populations include:

    • Hiring research staff who reflect the characteristics of the population
    • Ensuring research staff are fluent in languages spoken by the population
    • Partnering with stakeholders, such as community organizations, that represent or serve the population
    • Working with stakeholders to develop culturally and linguistically relevant study materials
    • Conducting formative research with individuals from the population
    • Providing training to research staff to raise awareness about implicit bias and promote cultural competency
    populations

    Relevant Resources: Recruiting Diverse Participants

  • Recruitment Strategies

    Recruitment strategies should be tailored to your registry and the people you are trying to recruit. In other words, your formative work and conversations with stakeholders should guide your selection of recruitment strategies.

    Recruitment Reminders

    • Providing a monetary incentive (i.e., cash or gift card) to compensate participants for their time and effort can help promote enrollment.
    • Recruitment is a research activity; remember to obtain IRB approval before starting the recruitment process. Recruitment materials (e.g., posters, email messages, or social media ads) also need IRB approval.

    Type of Strategy Examples
    Clinic or hospital-based
    • Identifying potential participants via medical records or provider referral and contacting them to invite them to participate
    • Conducting in-person recruitment at clinics or hospitals
    • Asking healthcare providers to share information about the registry with potential participants
    • Posting flyers or electronic advertisements in clinics or hospitals
    Mail and phone recruitment
    • Sending recruitment letters, post cards, or brochures to potential participants
    • Calling potential participants via phone as a follow-up to a mailed recruitment letter, or without prior mailing if institutional policy allows
    Multi-media recruitment methods
    • Developing TV and radio ads
    • Disseminating information via social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
    • Utilizing email listservs at your institution or those targeting your population of interest
    • Posting your study on research websites such as Research for Me (at UNC) or ResearchMatch.org, or non-research websites, such as Craigslist
    • Developing a study website and including a link to the website on other recruitment materials
    Community-based
    • Tabling at health fairs or other community events
    • Partnering with community organizations to share information about the project with their constituents (e.g., recruiting at an event, sharing information via their email listserv)
    • Posting flyers in the community
    Example of Follow-Up Communication Methods Examples
      Clinic or hospital-based  
    • Identifying potential participants via medical records or provider referral and contacting them to invite them to participate
    • Conducting in-person recruitment at clinics or hospitals
    • Asking healthcare providers to share information about the registry with potential participants
    • Posting flyers or electronic advertisements in clinics or hospitals
      Mail and phone recruitment  
    • Sending recruitment letters, post cards, or brochures to potential participants
    • Calling potential participants via phone as a follow-up to a mailed recruitment letter, or without prior mailing if institutional policy allows
      Multi-media recruitment methods  
    • Developing TV and radio ads
    • Disseminating information via social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter)
    • Utilizing email listservs at your institution or those targeting your population of interest
    • Posting your study on research websites such as Research for Me (at UNC) or ResearchMatch.org, or non-research websites, such as Craigslist
    • Developing a study website and including a link to the website on other recruitment materials
      Community-based  
    • Tabling at health fairs or other community events
    • Partnering with community organizations to share information about the project with their constituents (e.g., recruiting at an event, sharing information via their email listserv)
    • Posting flyers in the community
  • Designing Recruitment Materials

    Creating effective recruitment materials is an important part of the recruitment process. Strategies for creating high quality, effective materials include:

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Questions? Contact us at nctracs@unc.edu or 919-966-6022.

© 2019-2022. The NC TraCS Institute is the integrated hub of the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Registry Toolkit website is supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), National Institutes of Health, through Grant Award Number UL1TR002489. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. | accessibility