One of the fastest growing methods for biomedical and community-based study recruitment is through the use of social media. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have been growing in popularity as a viable means for investigators hoping to gain access to specific demographics, particularly those hard-to-reach populations. It is a quick, effective, and inexpensive way to address an issue familiar to investigators. While it may be gaining popularity, it is still relatively unfamiliar terrain for both investigators and IRBs alike.

Using social media for recruitment opens the door to certain logistical and ethical issues that must be considered. IRB approval is still necessary for any messaging and activities involving study recruitment before any activities are initiated. Likewise, the messaging of recruitment ads will also need approval from the platform’s content managers.
For these and other reasons, the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network’s Community Engagement and Outreach (CEO) Core – in conjunction with the Clinical Research Resource (CRR) Navigator – offers a consultation service to assist network investigators hoping to harness the power of social media. The CEO Core can offer to help investigators:

  • Tailor the message for universal approval
  • Use demographic considerations to increase reach to desired audience
  • Offer budget options/considerations to “boost” the likelihood of engagement
  • Assist in making content more visible and appealing
  • Track reach and engagement demographic data for reporting

The ease and quickness of recruitment through social media should not come at the cost of ethical considerations. Nor should investigators find themselves in a revolving door of content approvals and denials. The CEO’s expertise can assist investigators hoping to take advantage of the recruiting opportunity that social media has allowed. Contact Sean Navarrette at the CEO Core or CRR Navigator Amanda Fletcher for more information or to set up a consultation.