Last updated: 11/2007
Institutional Review Boards (IRB) are required to review and approve all advertisements (including posters, fliers, announcements, broadcasts, letters, notices, etc.) and recruitment incentives (compensation, gifts, etc.) associated with the research that they oversee. Approval must be obtained prior to the use of any advertisement or recruitment incentive. An advertisement/flier/broadcast can only be used exactly as it was written and for the specific purpose specified as approved by the IRB. Any change to an approved advertisement or recruitment incentive must be approved by the IRB prior to being put into effect. An advertisement that recruits subjects should be limited to the information the prospective subjects need to determine their eligibility and interest.
The Following Basic Elements Should be Included in an Advertisement for a Research Study
- The words 'research study' must appear at or immediately near the top/beginning of the advertisement
- The main purpose of the research (and/or condition under study) must be stated
- Provide the basic eligibility criteria (i.e. age range, healthy individual)
- State the tests/procedures involved in the study (not just acronyms, i.e. not MRI, but instead magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Give the time or other commitment required of the subjects
- State 'compensation' will be provided and not 'pay' if subjects are to be given money/gift for their participation in the study
- Have a contact name or person (i.e. Research Coordinator or Principal Investigator) and phone number listed for more information
- If applicable, state this is an experimental drug (not approved by the FDA)
- If applicable, state there is a placebo and what is meant by 'placebo' (i.e. inactive drug)
- At the bottom of the ad, provide the IRB protocol number and date of approval of the ad
- If applicable, any possible benefits should be presented in a conservative manner without exaggeration
For an example of a bad sample flier click here.
- Advertisement Revisions: If changes need to be made to an IRB approved advertisement, the ad must be sent to the IRB for re-approval even if the change is minor (i.e. a number or name change). Seemingly minor changes can impact the entire message in an advertisement.
- Use of Clip Art/Pictures: If a picture or clip art is used, be vigilant as to what role the picture plays in the advertisement and if it is appropriate or coercive in any manner. (For example: A picture of a dollar sign to indicate compensation would send out the wrong message to potential subjects that they should participate to get 'paid' and not for science or other benefits offered)