Recruitment of Human Participants

Recruitment of Human Participants

The Institutional Review Board is responsible for reviewing procedures to recruit participants to ensure that subject selection is equitable, and enrollment minimizes undue influence to participate [21 CFR 56.107(a), 56.111(a)(3)]. Likewise, all associated participant facing materials must be submitted to the IRB for review and approval.

Participant Recruitment

The Institutional Review Board is responsible for reviewing study recruitment plans as well as any associated participant facing materials. Recruitment plans and materials (i.e., advertisements, brochures, flyers, etc.) must comply with informed consent and subject selection regulations pursuant to 21 CFR 50.20, 50.25, and 56.11(a)(3) as well as the institutional policies described in the document provided below.

Participant Recruitment

Direct Recruitment of Participants

Please review and utilize the IRB’s guidance on recruiting participants when developing recruitment plans and recruitment materials. This guidance encompasses general recruitment guidance and guidance specific to recruiting Penn Medicine patients.

Use of Social Media in Recruitment


Researchers utilize social media for two main purposes: recruitment and as a component of the research interventions or data collection methods. When appropriate and applicable for the study, the Penn IRB supports the use of social media in research. This guidance is meant to serve as a resource to guide research teams considering the use of social media for recruitment purposes.

Payments and Incentives for Participation

Paying (remuneration) or otherwise incentivizing participants for their time contributing to a research study can be a useful tool to both recruit and retain participants. However, it is important to ensure that payments and incentives are equitable and do not present undue influence to participate. The Penn IRB is responsible for reviewing the rates, forms and schedules of remunerations to subjects participating in research at the university. The guidance below provides direction on payments and incentives, as well as recruitment finders fees / bonuses.

Payment for the Referral of Participants

The Penn IRB believes that finder’s fees and bonus payments to investigators and study staff create a potential conflict of interest. The IRB does not approve finder’s fees of bonus payments being paid to any Penn or UPHS investigators, physicians, nurses, staff, students, and others for referring or recruiting prospective subjects. The IRB may review and approve small, nominal value gifts to staff organizations if such gifts are not based on any indicator of trial enrollment. Please review the guidance below for additional rationale and details surrounding this policy.

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