Tips for preparing a clinical research recruitment budget

By Ann Chang, Associate Director, UCSF Women’s Health Clinical Research Center

More often than not, clinical research teams underestimate the staff effort and financial resources needed to reach enrollment targets. Building in sufficient recruitment funds in the grant budget is essential to recruitment success. Here are a few things to consider when preparing your budget…

1.  Study population: Is the pool of eligible participants large or limited?

  • If the participant population is fairly large, you may want to consider the more broad recruitment approach, such as placing newspaper ads, general mailings to the community, or social media advertising campaigns. Recruitment campaigns can be costly, so budget accordingly.  This handy tip sheet provides a list of tactics and cost guidance.
  • If the participant population is highly targeted, you may want to consider budgeting for:
    • More staff time to conduct chart review, clinic recruitment, and outreach to condition specific support/advocacy groups
    • A cohort identification mailing, which takes into account how many letters you will need to mail to achieve recruitment goals

2.  Recruitment timeline: How long do you have to reach your recruitment goal?

  • If your recruitment timeline is ambitious, consider increasing recruitment funds and/or staffing to allow an aggressive recruitment campaign
  • If your recruitment timeline spans multiple years, be sure to spread out recruitment funds over the duration of the period

3.  Screening fail rate: How many people will you have to screen to identify eligible participants?

  • It is better to be conservative in your estimates, rather than optimistic. If you anticipate a 7:1 screening to enroll rate, consider budgeting for a 10:1 screening to enroll rate. Recruitment is always harder than anticipated. This article provides useful information on budgeting and screening fail rates.
    • For example, if your recruitment target is 50 participants enrolled, how will you get at least 500 potentially eligible candidates to express interest?

Spending the time to think through these considerations in detail before submitting your grant will pay off down the road when it’s time to put your recruitment plan into action.

Need help with your recruitment budget?  Request a free consultation here.

This post was originally published on Cheat Sheet for UCSF Researchers: An insider's blog with tips and tricks for UCSF researchers and research staff on July 22, 2016.