Recruitment Playbook

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Our playbooks provide researchers and their teams with information and resources to assist in various aspects of conducting a research study. Click through for guidance on the proper regulatory pathways to follow for trial implementation, a comprehensive overview of using social media in research, and a customized catalogue of recruitment resources.


What stage is the study in?


What is your study design?


Who are you recruiting?


Are you only looking for recruitment resources that don’t cost money?


CTSI's Accrual to Clinical Trials (ACT) is a web-based self-directed cohort discovery tool. It involves a federated network made up of CTSA sites across the country which have connected electronic health record systems in order to identify cohorts.

For more information contact Sue Clifton at or visit

Access is provided through the Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) by emailing:

Local help desk:

Recruitment Facilitator Consultation

CTSI has a team of research and recruitment facilitators who come from diverse research backgrounds and have a wealth of experience recruiting study participants. The Facilitators hold meetings with research teams to brainstorm new ways to reach and engage the desired study population.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact a Research Facilitator:


Pitt+Me is a multi-media campaign designed to engage potential participants in research. The centerpiece of Pitt+Me is an online research registry website where nearly 200,000 potential participants have signed up to learn about research studies, and over 300 research studies display information about their protocols. Pitt+Me works to connect interested participants with suitable studies. Pitt+Me also has a Twitter handle and Facebook presence. CTSI helps with advertising design and IRB approval; this is a free service for the Pitt/UPMC research community.

Visit the website:

For information about advertising your study on Pitt+Me, contact Kerri Jackson:; 412-864-3478.

(Your IRB protocol will need to be modified to include Pitt+Me as a recruitment method prior to posting your study.

Community PARTners

The Community PARTners core is an integral link between research investigators and the community. Community PARTners helps researchers develop studies about health questions of concern to the community, and seeks to disseminate information about research back to the community. Community PARTners faculty and staff have a consistent presence at community events both large and small, and welcome researchers to join them tabling and these events. They have an especially strong relationship with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and the The New Pittsburgh Courier. The Urban League helps disseminate research information via monthly Lunch and Learn presentations by researchers and regular coverage of research studies in the New Pittsburgh Courier. Community partners has created a network of more than 200 community organizations.

To learn more about opportunities to collaborate with Community PARTners to publicize your study and create community partnerships, request a referral to the Community PARTners core on our webstie: The "I need help" icon (upper left on home page) will allow you to request a consultation.

Other community engagement methods

CTSI can assist with other community engagement approaches such as local events, like disease related fundraising walks or races or community health fairs, we can assist with engagement with community based groups, like churches and neighborhood outreach groups.

UPMC TV Monitors - UPMC Internal Communications

UPMC Media Relations can help with advertising research studies on TV monitors throughout the health system.

Find the media relations specialist assigned to your area here:

Office of University Communications

The University of Pittsburgh Office of University Communications has a professional, experienced staff of writers, editors, graphic designers, and production experts to help with the design of professional marketing communications for research studies, including flyers, brochures, and handouts.

For more information, contact Cynthia Gill, Executive Director, Marketing:, 412-624-4365

UPMC Infonet/UPMC Extra!

The UPMC Infonet, an intranet site for UPMC employees, has a page which lists actively recruiting research studies. The UPMC Extra! Is an online newsletter promoted through the Infonet; Extra features articles about research studies when space and content limits allow.

To publicize your study, contact:

Read Green

Cost: Yes

Pitt's Read Green is an email announcement/advertising service which has the potential to reach all of the Pitt faculty/staff community. Pricing is tiered and based on the number of people reached. Because the Pitt community is vast, this provides the ability to reach a large cohort of potential participants.

Information on pricing and a request form can be found here:

Recruitment Material Development and Placement

Flyers and brochures are a basic way to reach your desired study population. The University Office of Communications has professional marketing staff who can assist you with design of marketing materials; contact Cynthia Gill, Executive Director of Marketing:, 412-624-4365.

CTSI also has staff with experience in upgrading the design, wording, and graphics of study materials. To request CTSI help, log on to the CTSI home page CTSI home page and submit a request ("I need help" icon, upper left):

In deciding where to display flyers and brochures, it's important to consider attributes of the desire study population and consider places they might tend to congregate. Please see the attached list of campus and community venues that allow flyering for some suggestions.


Cost: Yes

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the Pittsburgh City Paper both provide print advertisement placement opportunities for research studies.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: link to classified advertising information here: Link to a media kit / to request a free advertising consultation here:

Pittsburgh City Paper: link to download a media kit or inquire about pricing here:

Pittsburgh Magazine is another popular local publication with advertisements. Link to account managers:

Bus Ads

Cost: Yes

Advertisements on Port Authority of Pittsburgh (PAT) buses have the potential to reach a large and diverse audience. The large number of bus lines allows a degree of geographic targeting; pricing varies depending on bus line and placement of ad on the bus. Bus advertisements are coordinated through University Office of Communications.

Contact: Cynthia Gill, Executive Director, Marketing:, 412-624-4365


Cost: Yes

Local television stations offer various advertising opportunities for research studies. Links to advertising contacts:


Cost: Yes

Local radio stations offer various advertising opportunities for research studies. Links to advertising contacts for some of the most popular:

Social Media Playbook

CTSI has designed a social media playbook which provides guidance regarding advertising studies on social media.

The playbook is available at

Social Media Consultation

CTSI has in-house expertise regarding promotion of research studies using social media. To request a consultation regarding study advertisement through Twitter, Facebook, or other social media platforms, simply click "I need help" on the CTSI home page (upper left corner) and request a meeting:

Facebook Advertising

Cost: Yes

Facebook ads are targeted to users based on their location, demographics, and profile information. Charges accrue on a "pay per click" basis. Monthly advertising budgets can be set so that ads stop displaying when budget maximums have been reached.

More information:

Integrating Special Populations

CTSI’s Integrating Special Populations (ISP) Program supports a group of Special Populations Liaisons, research staff with unique expertise in engagement of special populations across the lifespan. These include populations that are not commonly engaged in research, such as pregnant mothers, newborns, and the older adults, as well as populations historically underrepresented in biomedical research such as individuals with physical disabilities, African Americans and the LGBTQ communities. The liaisons are supported by a “Mind Bank” of expert scientists made up of faculty with expertise in research across the lifespan or with special populations. The “Mind Bank” helps investigators and liaisons develop strategies to integrate special populations into their studies.

Together, the CTSI ISP team

  1. Advises research on the special population dimensions of cohorts included in their research
  2. Helps formulate hypotheses relevant to or inclusive or special populations
  3. Identifies research gaps, opportunities and collaborators that facilitate a more inclusive approach recruitment of special populations
  4. Provides guidance on best practices for recruitment, specimen collection, and research methodologies
  5. Helps identify resources that may facilitate outreach to special populations

For more information, contact Denise Smalley, Administrator: or 412-648-4243

EMR "Best Practice Alerts" Through R3

Cost: Yes

EMR "Best Practice Alerts" alert patients' physicians of a potential research study for which their patient may be eligible based on pre-defined inclusion criteria. If the patient agrees to a referral, the physician electronically "signs" the alert which is then forwarded to the study team. It's recommended that this type of alert be used for intervention studies.

For more information visit


Cost: Yes

The University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research works collaboratively to conduct interdisciplinary research that improves communities and addresses social, economic, health, and policy issues most relevant to society. The Center carries out this mission by (1) providing research support infrastructure and training; (2) conducting original research in a few focused areas, including urban impact analysis; survey methodology; and psychosocial aspects of aging; and (3) enhancing access to local and national policy-relevant data.

For more information visit

CARe (prep to research requests)

The Center for Assistance in Research using the eRecord (CARe) is a single point-of-contact for researchers who want to use the UPMC electronic medical record (EMR), or eRecord, for research purposes. Whether you need help with the regulatory process, a cohort list to conduct a retrospective review, a full data set, an alert to facilitate recruitment, or anything else related to using the UPMC EMR systems for research, CARe can help.

For more information visit

Youth Research Advisory Board (YRAB)

The Youth Research Advisory Board (YRAB) is a diverse group of 15 to 26 years-old teens and young adults who meet monthly to offer a youth perspective to interested researchers and community partners about adolescent research. Members provide a youth voice by providing feedback on how to engage young participants in research and to provide a unique perspective for researchers to communicate efficiently and transparently with youth participants. YRAB provides an opportunity for members to gain an understanding of the research process and to develop their leadership skills.

For more information visit

Community Research Advisory Board

The Community Research Advisory Board (CRAB) was established in 2001 to advise researchers on how best to engage under-represented populations in research, and to foster collaboration among those populations and researchers interested in addressing health disparities.

For more information visit


Cost: Varies

Craigslist is a low-cost option for recruitment. Generally it seems to work best when recruiting healthy control participants but can also be an option for studies recruiting a certain disease population. Postings can be placed in the general community and volunteer community sections free of charge. They can also be posted in the part-time job section for a small fee.

Departmental Registries

Departmental Registries – A registry is used for the collection & maintenance of information on individuals who have a similar condition and who consented to being contacted for future studies or who agreed to allow their data to be used for future studies in a specific area of research. Most departments have strict guidelines on who can access their registries. Some have an application process in order to be granted access. It’s recommended that research teams ask if there is a research registry within their department and what the policy is for accessing it.

National Registries

National Registries – there are many national registries involving different diseases or condition. Many of these registries will not release participant contact information but instead will post studies that may be of interest to registry participants.

For a partial list of national registries, visit:

Department Clinics

Recruitment within a clinic can be an effective way to recruit participants with a particular condition. Per the IRB guidelines, the study should be introduced by a primary care provider or member of the clinical team to avoid a "cold-calling" scenario in which the potential participant is approached by an unknown person based on prior knowledge of private information.

For more information regarding this policy, please visit:

There are various methods that can be implemented when recruiting through a clinic including asking permission to leave study materials (flyers, brochures) in the waiting room, sending "dear doctor" letters to inform providers about the study, and setting aside time to be available during clinic hours to talk face-to-face with potential participants once they've indicated interest in the study. If you plan on recruiting through a clinic/s, it's best practice to start engaging the providers early on and to continue to maintain the relationship through out the study. Some providers may even be willing to send patients mailings to inform them of the study.

Multidisciplinary Acute Care Research Organization (MACRO)

Cost: Yes

MACRO is an internal clinical research organization jointly run by the Department of Critical Care Medicine, Department of Surgery, and Department of Emergency Medicine with a focus on acute care research. A key service offered is 24/7 screening and enrollment. MACRO also assists with protocol execution, budget, and regulation compliance duties.

For more information visit:

Pediatric PITTnet

Cost: Varies

CTSI’s pediatric practice-based research network was created to facilitate the translation of research discoveries into practice to improve children’s health. Pediatric PittNet supports participant recruitment through on-site screening and enrollment done by research nurses in select practices, as well as through paper-based and electronic study postings. Pediatric PittNet works to enhance communication between investigators and pediatric community practices. Principal investigators who have interest in working with community pediatric practices must first contact Pediatric PittNet.

For more information, visit the network Web site at

Pediatric Registries through CHP (Asthma, sleep disorders, diabetes)

A registry is used for the collection & maintenance of information on individuals who have a similar condition and who consented to being contacted for future studies or who agreed to allow their data to be used for future studies in a specific area of research. Most departments have strict guidelines on who can access their registries. Some have an application process in order to be granted access or may not allow researchers from outside their department to have access. It's important to check with each department on their guidelines as they vary.

A few examples of pediatric registries include:

CHP Internal Communications

Children’s Hospital maintains bulletin boards in two locations for recruitment of studies. Study flyers require approval by the Internal Communications department prior to being posted.

For more information, contact Josh Madore at

Information from IRB on recruiting pediatrics

There are specific requirements for recruiting children in research. Please review the guidelines at

Center for Excellence in Child and Adolescent Health Research

The Center for Excellence in Child and Adolescent Health Research is a virtual center that brings participants, families, researchers, health care providers, and community into a "Research Home" where all can learn from one another. The "Research Home" is a concept that was created based on years of experience conducting research in a pediatric setting which requires a specialized approach.

For more information, visit

Newborn Research Support Service (NuRSERy)

Cost: Yes

CTSI created the NuRSERy to facilitate and expand pediatric research that begins with the birth of a child. NuRSERy is based at the Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC (Magee), the region’s largest maternity care and referral center for high-risk births. The Mother-Baby Unit provides postpartum care to 10,000 healthy mothers and babies annually. The Magee Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) cares for more than 1,000 premature or medically fragile babies per year, a quarter of whom are born before 32 weeks gestation. The size and diversity of the population at Magee affords a rich opportunity for research that can improve the health of the regions’ families. The NuRSERy staff are trained in the conduct of research and perform duties according to good clinical research practices. Investigators wishing to recruit participants from the Magee Newborn Nursery or NICU will undergo review by the NuRSERy Oversight Committee and are strongly encouraged to use the many services of NuRSERy. The Oversight Committee includes representatives from Pediatrics, Newborn Medicine, Family Medicine, Nursing, Obstetrics, and Research Administration.

For more information, visit

Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Community Registry

The Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Community Registry has over 3000 community-dwelling persons from the Pittsburgh region age 60 or older. These participants have been consented to be contacted for participation in Pepper-approved research studies.

For more information, visit

Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Platinum Senior-Living Registry

The Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center Platinum Senior-Living Registry includes a list of senior-living communities and participants ages 55+ who are willing to participate in research. They are able to provide sites for researchers to conduct research in senior-living facilities across the continuum of care in the greater Pittsburgh area, provide lists of participants who may be eligible and are willing to participate in research, and provide queried de-identified data sets to assist with grant proposals and IRB submissions.

For more information, visit

Community PARTners - Partnership with Urban League and New Pgh Courier

CTSI's Community PARTners Core, the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, the New Pittsburgh Courier, and the UPMC Center for Engagement & Inclusion collaborate on a monthly health page to provide relevant health information, statistics, and research opportunities to our local community and the Courier readership. Aims for this unique, ongoing partnership between academics, the community, a health system, and local media include community health education and advocacy, increasing minority participation in clinical and translational research, and encouraging individuals to become empowered and actively engaged in their own health. This partnership is entering its 7th year, and has featured over 50 health topics.

The New Pittsburgh Courier distributes more than 10,000 copies of each weekly edition and is one of the nation's oldest and most prestigious black newspapers. Through these monthly segments, the partnership has provided information about Allegheny County-specific health disparities, community resources, and current research opportunities, as well as a commentary each month from Esther Bush, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh.

For more information about this partnership, email Bee Schindler, LMSW, Community Engagement Coordinator, at