Recruitment Letter Templates

Introductory Text and Links to Recruitment Letter Templates

When recruiting research subjects, there are a variety of factors to consider, including what the study population will be, how potential participants will be identified, and how potential participants will be contacted about the study.

The CRRO has developed templates to guide your process of contacting potential participants by mail.

Below are links to study-specific letters for recruitment of study participants. These are meant to help guide you in the wording of recruitment letters and you should modify them to suit the needs of your own study. Whatever recruitment and retention methods you decide to use must be described in your IRB approved protocol and any materials you intend to distribute to potential participants (such as letters or flyers) must be attached to your IRB approved protocol in Section S.

Additionally, in conjunction with recruitment procedures that include reviewing patient schedules or medical records in order to identify potential participants to contact, there may be HIPAA and informed consent requirements that must be fulfilled and described in your protocol.

When contacting potential participants for the first time, it is important to note that some individuals could be concerned that researchers might have accessed their private information in order to target them for recruitment. As a result, in those cases where private information is used to find potentially eligible participants, the most respectful approach is for the first contact to come from someone known to the potential participant, such as their Primary Care Physician.

In your recruitment efforts, you may want to use just one of these letters, or use several in conjunction with each other. The CRRO team is happy to help customize your recruitment procedures to maximize your recruitment potential! Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Recruitment Letter Templates:

1. Letter to clinicians asking them to recruit from their own patient population

2. Letter introducing the research to the potential participant – signed by someone known to patient

3. Letter from the researcher to the potential participant –permission from treating clinician secured before contact

4. Opt-in recruitment letter to potential participant

5. Opt-in/Opt-out recruitment letter to potential participant

6. Snowballing recruitment letter

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1. Letter to clinicians asking them to recruit from their own patient population:

The purpose of this letter is to solicit potential subject referrals from clinicians (such as a Primary Care Physician or specialist that is known to the subject). Letters directly to the treating clinician usually do not have to be approved by the IRB, however, the recruitment methods and means (letters, flyers, posters, etc.) to contact potential subjects must be approved by the IRB. It is advisable to also include an IRB approved study summary and/ or brochure(s) with this referral letter.Please note that beyond telling their patients or distributing information about the study, the recruiting clinician is not permitted to conduct study-related activities (such as, answer questions about the research, consent participants, conduct a screening, etc.) unless they are approved co-investigators on the protocol. The BU/BMC IRB does not permit finder’s fees.

Download Letter to Clinicians

2. Letter introducing the research to the potential participant – signed by someone known to patient:

This letter can help to facilitate an introduction of the researcher to a patient by someone known to the patient, such as their Primary Care Physician and can include opt-in or opt-out options. You might also consider having the researcher co-sign the letter. Additional IRB approved materials may be attached (such as a brochure, opt in/opt out cards, etc.) as applicable.

Download opt-out version

3. Letter from the researcher to the potential participant –permission from treating clinician secured before contact:

This is a letter that can be sent to potential participants after the researcher has secured permission to contact them from the treating clinician. This letter can include either opt-in or opt-out options. Additional IRB approved materials may be attached (such as a brochure, opt in/opt out cards, etc.) as applicable.

Download opt-in version

Download opt-out version

4. Opt-in recruitment letter to potential participant:

This is a general opt-in recruitment letter template. You could use this type of letter when you are asking potential participants to contact you about participating in your study. This type of letter works well if you are using a publicly available mailing list (i.e. town lists). This method is not typically approved if the researcher is not known to the potential subject (see options 2, 3, and 4). Additional IRB approved materials may be attached (such as a brochure, opt in/ opt out cards, etc.) as applicable.

Download letter template

5. Opt-in/Opt-out recruitment letter to potential participant:

This letter includes both opt-in and opt-out language. You could use this type of letter when you are asking potential participants to contact you about their interest in participating. However, the letter also tells potential participants that they will be contacted by the research staff UNLESS they call or mail back the attached form indicating they are not interested. This is NOT the preferred method of the BU/BMC IRB, but may be approved if appropriately justified.

Download letter template

6. Snowballing recruitment letter:

This is a letter that can be given to potential participants and/or participants who may know of others who could be interested in the research study and can thus, pass along the information (so-called “snowballing”). This letter would include some information about the research and would provide the contact information of members of the research team who can answer questions. This is the only type of snowballing recruitment that is currently accepted by the BU/BMC IRB.