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Ethics & Human Research

Challenges and Possible Solutions to Adapting
to Virtual Recruitment: Lessons Learned from a
Survey Study during the Covid-19 Pandemic

ABSTRACT The Covid-19 pandemic required rapid changes to research protocols, including immediate transitions to recruiting research participants and conducting the informed consent process virtually. This case study details the chal-lenges our research team faced adapting an in-person, behavioral-intervention and survey study to virtual recruitment. We reflect on the impact of these rapid changes on recruitment and retention, discuss protocol changes we made to address these challenges and the needs of potential and enrolled participants, and propose recommendations for future work. Using computer technology to display professional return phone numbers, being flexible by contacting potential participants through various means, minimizing email communication due to added regulatory requirements, and partnering with the institutional review board to shorten and improve the consent document and process were critical to study success. This case study can offer insight to other researchers as they navigate similar processes. Virtual recruitment is likely to continue; it is important to ensure that it facilitates, rather than hinders, equitable and just recruitment practices.

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