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Truth in (study recruitment) advertising

Many study teams use flyers, advertisements, and/or things like social media posts to recruit potential research subjects. If written materials, in whatever format, are a part of your recruitment strategy, please take a look at UAMS IRB Policy 14.3 for a refresher on advertisement content.

Because the IRB must determine that subject selection is equitable, it will review all recruitment materials as part of its study review. The IRB will consider whether the proposed material is accurate and does not unduly influence a decision regarding participation.

Advertisements must typically be limited to the following elements:

  • They must state that the project is research and briefly address its purpose
  • The should include the name and location of the PI and/or the study team, and contact information
  • They can briefly describe the eligibility criteria, to minimize the number of responses from clearly ineligible people. This does NOT mean the eligibility criteria need to be listed in great and gory detail. Just give people an idea of what you’re looking for.
  • An indication of how much time study participation will involve.
  • A mention that compensation will be available for time and inconvenience.

However, any of the following increases the chances of getting an IRB contingency requiring a change:

  • Promising a favorable outcome
  • Using terms such as “new treatment” or “new medication” without explaining that the product is investigational
  • Emphasizing the availability of compensation, or the amount of compensation
  • Providing inducements such as a price reduction on the purchase of the investigational product once it is approved for marketing.