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Human Subjects Division (HSD)

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Approaching and Recruiting Prospective Subjects

Best practices for approaching and recruiting prospective research subjects are highly dependent upon the type of research and the potential subject population. An appropriate approach for one study may be inadvisable for another study that uses different methods or involves different populations. A primary concern in approaching and recruiting prospective subjects is for the protection of subject privacy and confidentiality.

In general, two principles must be balanced.  First, in order to protect the privacy of a prospective subject, the initial approach should be made by someone whom prospective subjects will recognize as having ordinary access to their names and other information about them. This is especially important if prospective subjects have been selected through access to confidential records, or through knowledge of private information about them.  Second, it is important to minimize the possibility that prospective subjects (or their parents or guardians) feel pressured to participate in the research due to their relationship with the person making the initial approach.

Please see the related topics at right for best practice information concerning various approach and recruitment methods.