This resource is designed to assist people who manage or post to social media accounts that represent units within the University of Arizona Health Sciences (UAHS). It was developed with input from the College of Medicine Research Office, the IRB and the HR Department.
If you are a health-care provider or researcher, please remember that per University of Arizona Human Resources guidelines, it is not appropriate to have personal communications with your patients, research subjects, or potential patients/research subjects via social media. The guidelines state:
“It is never appropriate to use social media to engage in personal communications with individuals with whom you are currently involved in a healthcare provider-patient relationship. Unless specifically permitted by a research sponsor, it is never appropriate to use social media to engage in personal communication with individuals who are in a researcher-patient or researcher-research subject relationship. This caution applies also to those who are being recruited to participate in research.” - UA Social Media Guidelines
If you are not a health-care provider or researcher but manage or post content to an account representing an UAHS unit (e.g. a UA College of Medicine Facebook page, a Sarver Heart Center Twitter account, etc.), you still must abide by the rules governing recruitment for clinical trials and other research studies when posting to social media (or any other communication channel).
In general, targeted recruitment for clinical research studies through any channel, including social media, requires prior approval by the Institutional Review Board (IRB). General awareness-raising about clinical research studies offered by UA is permitted on social media, but recruitment of subjects is generally not permitted.* In order to ensure that you are abiding by the guidelines and do not put a study in jeopardy, please observe the following do’s and don’ts. When in doubt, don’t post. Ask first.
You are encouraged to share general information about open clinical trials or other content on the Clinical Research Studies site via UAHS social media channel(s) that you manage.
You may include the basic study information, such as name of the study and the required characteristics for subjects, as listed on the Clinical Research Studies site. This site has been designed and is carefully maintained by the UAHS Research Administration Office to ensure that the information provided is within IRB guidelines and federal guidelines.
Do include a link back to a page on the Clinical Research Studies site so that interested parties can find the contact information to learn more about the study.
If you receive questions about a research study via social media, refer the person to the information contained on Clinical Research Studies site and/or give the contact information provided on the site for the study of interest (you will find this on the right-hand side of each study’s page).
You may NOT attempt to recruit individuals via social media.* This includes doing any of the following when posting about a clinical research study:
- tagging or mentioning individuals by their handles or profiles,
- retweeting/sharing posts made by others who have mentioned or tagged individuals,
- messaging individuals, even privately, unless you are answering a direct question by referring them to the Clinical Research Studies site or providing contact information for the study coordinator as listed on the site
- friending/following individuals for the purpose of alerting them to clinical trails,
- any other behavior that associates an individual (by name or social media identity) with a message about a clinical research study.
You may tag or mention a related health organization (e.g. mentioning the American Heart Association’s handle @American_Heart in a tweet) or post to that organization’s account (e.g., on its Facebook wall), but tagging individuals is NOT permitted. Tag other organizations sparingly to ensure that your posts do not cross the line to spam. Consider how you would view another organization tagging your unit’s accounts in a similar post.
DON’T include any information about the study that is not listed on the Clinical Research Studies site. This site has been designed and is carefully maintained by the UAHS Research Administration Office to ensure that the information provided is within IRB and federal guidelines.
DON’T attempt to answer questions about the specifics of a study via social media. Refer the person to information on the site or give them the study coordinator’s contact information as listed on the site.
DON’T tag or link to an individual study investigator/research staffer’s handle or social media profile in a post related to a clinical research study. If you wish to direct potential subjects to a study coordinator for further information, provide the coordinator’s phone number or email address as listed on the Clinical Research Studies site.
DON’T POST if you are unsure whether your post is within the guidelines. If you have a question, please contact Karen Lutrick in the UAHS Research Administration Office (520-626-8105 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lesley Merrifield at the University of Arizona Health Sciences (520-626-1331 email@example.com). For questions about UA Human Subjects Protection Program (HSPP) policies, refer to their Investigator Manual or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If UA HSPP is not the IRB of record, contact that IRB for more information.
Thank you for helping to spread the word about our research studies in a responsible manner!
Examples of Acceptable Posts
Twitter: Research means hope. We have more than 100 active clinical research studies. Learn more: [shortened link to: http://studies.medicine.arizona.edu/ ]
Twitter: May is National Asthma & Allergy Awareness Month. If you have #asthma, you may be eligible for one of our studies: [shortened link to: http://studies.medicine.arizona.edu/study-categories/asthma-lung ]
Facebook: If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, you may be interested in a new research opportunity through Arizona Arthritis Center entitled “Study for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis for patients who have had an inadequate response to conventional drugs.” [shortened link to: http://studies.medicine.arizona.edu/trials/study-treatment-rheumatoid-ar... ]
* In some cases, researchers may have received special IRB approval to recruit or directly communicate with research subjects (or potential subjects) in a professional capacity via social media. In general, however, it is safest to assume that special approval was not obtained and stick to general awareness raising. If you believe a particular study has special approval to use social media for recruitment, please contact VPR-IRB@email.arizona.edu before posting.