Recruitment in Healthy Volunteers

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Imperial CRF utilised new methods to recruit volunteers such as. Spotify, Facebook, GP mail outs, large newspaper adverts, public events and online forms.

Recruitment in Healthy Volunteers Reshma Sultan. NIHR/WT Imperial CRF, Department of Experimental Medicine.

Imperial Clinical Research Facility (CRF) has seen an increase in healthy volunteer Phase I research studies, especially vaccine trials. This has resulted in the need of a specialised recruitment team that focused on recruiting healthy volunteers using a variety of methods. Imperial CRF utilised new methods to recruit volunteers such as Spotify, Facebook, GP mail outs, large newspaper adverts, public events and online forms. The incorporation of an online healthy volunteer database (HVD) form strengthened the growing need for healthy volunteers with fierce competition in London. The effectiveness and response level were compared.

Response Level of Traditional Media

The incorporation of online advertising as well as print advertising simultaneously increases the level of responses and overall speed of recruitment. 50% of the studies used an online method and print advertising with a higher response level and stronger visual concept. All online campaigns need to use landing pages that are clean and easy to read to retain interest.


Spotify Vs. Facebook


80 Number of Responses to single Advert Type

Background and Methods

Free Vs. Paid Advertising



Advert Views/ Impressions






Clicks to Website






Campaign Length

4 weeks

2 weeks





70 60 50 40 30




10 0

GP mail outs Mailouts

Newspaper 4xx22 Newspaper4

Newspaper 10 xx 44 Newspaper10

Figure 7: Comparison of three types of printed recruitment advertising.

At an equal cost of £700 the newspaper 10x4 size advert generates the highest number of responses from healthy volunteers compared to smaller newspaper or mail out adverts.

Number of Responses to Free Advertising Figure 3: (a) Screen capture of 2 week Facebook advertising campaign during August for healthy volunteers using 60,952 impressions, geo-targeted London only 18 to 50 year olds. (b) Comparison of online campaign performance.

The Facebook campaign had outperformed the Spotify campaign by 0.39% CTR despite having 159,080 less impressions. Typical online campaigns generate a CTR of 0.30%, therefore both had performed better than the average campaign for this media type. If the Facebook campaign had served the same number of impressions it is likely that there would have been a threefold increase in click to the website and subsequent replies. The difference in responses is likely due to one showing an amount of up to £100 whilst the other one did not mention an amount. Typically a person will see an advert an average of 9 times from multiple sources before they contact the study team. Figure 1: Screen capture of 4 week Spotify audio campaign for a healthy volunteer vaccine trial using 220,032 impressions, geo-targeted London only 18 to 50 years olds.


28 21




10 5 0



Mass Email The Source Screensaver

Figure 8: Comparison of six types of free online recruitment methods.

Healthy Volunteer Database and Events

Figure 5: Online HVD sign up form.





All of the free advertising methods had an average of 21 responses placed over 4 weeks. These results in fig 7 and 8 demonstrates that targeted online advertising should not be underestimated and used whenever possible.

• 635 new volunteers have signed up to the HVD in 9 months, compared to 20 using paper forms. • HVD has 1150 volunteers signed up compared to 400 through the use of recruitment events and the online form. • Events have generated an average rate 3% of the attended visitors of the event. • Recruitment event material generally well received if it contains less than 100 words on the front cover (figure 6). • Layman friendly text used in materials. Figure 2: Landing page for the Spotify campaign with study specific information and pre-screening questions . Results showed 963 clicks to the website , 40 registered responses and a 0.44% click through rate (CTR)


Conclusion Recruitment advertisement needs to be ethically appropriate whilst incorporating visual effects and the amount of financial compensation in order to compete for volunteers in London. Online advertising methods need to be used along side any print campaigns to widen reach. It should be clear that the source of volunteers may not accurately reflect the true source as many adverts are shown through multiple mediums e.g. posters, online, newspaper at the same time and the source recorded may be the last source the participant had seen. Figure 6: Healthy Volunteer leaflet front.

For more information contact: Reshma Sultan, Clinical Trials Volunteer Recruitment Manager, NIHR/Wellcome Trust Imperial Clinical Research Facility, London, W12 0HS. Email: [email protected] Tel: 0203 313 1086

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