Since 2009 UIC has been fortunate to offer ResearchMatch as a free tool for its clinical researchers. Over the last six years ResearchMatch has drawn upon the expertise of major academic institutions across the U.S. to enhance the registry and make it easier for health researchers to connect with potential study participants in Chicago and across the country.
Created by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Consortium and managed at UIC by the CCTS, ResearchMatch has a simple goal – to bring together two groups of people who are looking for one another: (1) people who are trying to find research studies, and (2) researchers who are looking for people to participate in their studies.
ResearchMatch was designed to make the registration process simple and secure for those interested in volunteering while cutting down on the steps leading to the consent process for the research team. Moreover, anyone conducting health research can use the registry to reach populations across the country making it an ideal tool for conducting IRB approved survey research.
The volunteer registry is includes volunteers that span the full health spectrum – from healthy to those with a variety of diseases and conditions; it is not restricted to any one disease or patient characteristic. Any health conditions are self-disclosed by the individual and can be updated by the individual at any time. Volunteers are contacted by email if they might be a match for a study in their self-defined geographic area. If interested, they click to release their contact information to the research team.
With the help of partner organizations and interested researchers, the ResearchMatch Team developed condition specific sub-registries for conditions such as anxiety, autism, HIV and intellectual disabilities. These sub-registries more easily connect people with a specific condition to researchers seeking volunteers for their studies.
Recently ResearchMatch began interfacing with ClinicalTrials.gov to increase recruitment potential. Volunteers can search studies registered with ClinicalTrials.gov through the more user-friendly ResearchMatch website. A ResearchMatch logo will appear next to studies recruiting through the registry on both the ClinicalTrials.gov and ResearchMatch.org websites.
The registry’s newest enhancement is the ability to pre-screen potential participants with a REDCap survey. Now in addition to contacting volunteers with their ResearchMatch ad, researchers will have the option of including a link to a REDCap pre-screening survey. If a volunteer clicks that they are interested in your study, your survey will automatically be sent. This eliminates one more phone call or email the study coordinator must make.
Only ResearchMatch institutions have access to the wide variety of registry volunteers. UIC research teams can register as researchers on the site and request a feasibility assessment. The feasibility assessment helps a study team determine if the registry has sufficient numbers of the type of potential volunteer sought. If the feasibility assessment is favorable, a PI can request recruitment access to the registry.
Please note that IRB approval is required for all ResearchMatch ads, emails and pre-screening surveys. If you need assistance with your IRB application, the CCTS can provide help through a regulatory consultation.