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Participant Engagement Consultations and Resources

Our staff can assist you with all phases of the participant engagement process, including designing a plan, reviewing study ads and flyers, outreaching to potential participants via “honest broker,” and connecting you with co-investigators at other institutions.


Before you begin actively engaging participants, consider:

  • What are the incentives to participate?
  • What are the barriers (e.g., time off work, transportation)? Are there solutions to make it easier to participate (monetary compensation, Uber vouchers, etc.)?
  • Are there community partners (local clinics, schools, campus orgs) you can engage to help you share the study opportunity?
  • Are there local patient advocacy organizations you could partner with to help advertise your study?
  • What form of recruitment communication is appropriate for your population: email, phone, print media, social media, etc.
  • Consider translating recruitment materials in other languages.
  • Do you have a plan to disseminate your findings in lay terms to participants? This is often overlooked by study teams but it is extremely important for building trust and a positive perception of research participation.
  • Recruitment Strategizing Worksheet

Measure impact. Track how your participants learned of your study.

REMINDER: All recruitment materials & language must be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and comply with Stanford Human Subjects Research Recruitment Guidance.

Need additional support? Contact  EngageParticipants@stanford.edu


  • Review other participant engagement plans and materials, including social media resources
  • Provide community engagement strategies and referrals to Stanford’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) for Clinical Research
  • Facilitate access to Trial Innovation Network (TIN) resources for multi-site studies

Research Participant Engagement Program Overview (slide deck)

Best Practices for Recruitment Materials (slide deck)

Watch an introduction to our services:


For consultation, contact EngageParticipants@stanford.edu

Guidelines & Templates

How to Plan a Recruitment Budget

How to Plan a Participant Recruitment Budget for your Study

The staff effort and costs associated with participant recruitment are almost always underestimated. Incorporating sufficient funding into the grant proposal budget is essential for attaining your enrollment goals.

If you haven’t already, brainstorm using our Recruitment Strategizing Worksheet to get started.

For planning your budget, consider:

  • Study population: Is the pool of eligible participants large or limited? Stanford patients or beyond Stanford?
    • For large participant populations, consider broad approaches, such as social media, newspaper ads, and posting flyers in high visibility areas. Our Stanford Research Registry or Direct Email “honest broker” outreach may also be a good fit.
    • For highly specific participant populations, consider budgeting for more staff time to conduct chart reviews, clinic recruitment, and outreach to relevant patient advocacy/support groups. Our Epic MyChart “honest broker” outreach may also be a good fit.
  • Estimated Eligible Rate: How many people will you have to screen to identify eligible participants?
    • Recruitment is always harder than anticipated. If you estimate a 6:1 screening to enroll rate, budget for 10:1. Consider the “Recruitment Funnel” below. For example, if your enrollment goal is 100 participants, how will you engage 1,000 potentially eligible participants?

Consultation Process

Initial Consultation

The initial consultation is designed to deliver any of the above services. Each consultation is tailored to your research participation needs. An email summary of recommendations and next steps are provided.

Please note: We will request the following items prior to the initial consultation:

  • Study synopsis, inclusion/exclusion criteria
  • Timeline
  • Enrollment goal and status
  • If applicable, recruitment strategies tried and recruitment materials/language
  • Other relevant information, such as compensation

Six-month Follow-up

During this session, we will assess what worked well and what did not in order to make needed adjustments to your participant engagement plan. Please bring along data you’ve collected to track your recruitment efforts.

All consultations are held in-person or virtually via Zoom.

Channels to Help Reach Participants

In the News

Stanford Research Participation Program Expands (Stanford Spectrum Newsletter, June 2022)

Study Team Recruitment Efforts Get a Powerful New Ally (Research Office Bulletin, March 2021)

Expanded program helps researchers engage study participants (Research Office Bulletin, November 2019)