The Use of Social Media in Recruitment to Research: A Guidance Document

At Seeker Health, we aren't alone in our belief that social media is an effective recruitment tool for clinical trials. Recently, the Harvard Catalyst Regulatory Foundations, Ethics, & Law Program released a guidance document titled: 

The Use of Social Media in Recruitment to Research: A Guide for Investigators and IRB

The aim of this guidance document is to facilitate the use of social media as a valuable recruitment tool in ways that are ethically and legally appropriate. As such, it seeks to provide institutions, IRBs, and investigators with the tools to evaluate the ethical and regulatory acceptability of research protocols that propose to recruit study participants through the use of social media. 

The guidance offers clarity on several of the controls we've built into our Seeker service, which includes complete comment suppression for Facebook newsfeed ads, pre-approval by IRBs/ECs, and the highest implementation of data privacy and protection. 

To close with a quote from the guidance: "the prevalence and popularity of social media is only likely to grow, and with it the appeal of using social media as a recruitment tool, particularly if early signs of effectiveness bear out. Proposing and evaluating social media recruitment requires sensitivity to the dynamics of online communities, and may involve some potentially unfamiliar issues, but these should not be exaggerated."

Access the full guidance document here.

To learn more about compliant social media campaigns for clinical trials, please contact us at Seeker Health

Special thanks to Luke Gelinas from the Harvard Catalyst Regulatory Foundations, Ethics, & Law Program.


Seeker Health is a digital health company innovating the way patients learn about clinical trials and sign up to participate. Seeker Health's mission is to improve health outcomes around the world. Using technology to accelerate the development and adoption of new treatments is a great place to start. Learn more at: