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Participant Engagement Tips and Resources

Participant recruitment and retention requires thoughtful reflection and, ideally, begins with community engagement.

Below we provide tips and resources to engage the participants for your research study. Do keep in mind that all participant engagement materials and language must be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and comply with Stanford Human Subjects Research Recruitment Guidance before any recruitment or screening can take place.

If you need additional support engaging participants, email us at EngageParticipants@stanford.edu.

Overview

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

Guidelines & Templates

CTSA's Recruitment & Retention Materials Content + Design Toolkit

To help support your recruitment efforts, we have developed templates for various aspects of the participant engagement process.

Participant Engagement  Budget Template:

How to Plan a Recruitment Budget

Study Invitation Letter Templates:

Principal Investigator-Provider Co-invitation Study Letter template
Direct Email honest broker Study Letter template
Epic MyChart honest broker Study Letter template (maternal/child populations)
Postal Mail honest broker Study Letter template

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?

Channels to Help Reach Participants