Participant recruitment is one of the biggest challenges for any study and if you plan to launch an Apple ResearchKit or ResearchStack based study in the form of a mobile app, the challenge just gets more interesting!

Mobile apps give you the power of reaching out to a multitude of people across demographics. It is important to leverage the tenets of mobility in making your participant recruitment process more efficient and fruitful.


Here are a few thoughts:

  • Expand outreach – the mobile way

Since you have the provision of putting up your app on the App Store and making it available to people across countries and continents, you might want to consider building a study that people from anywhere can be a part of. Imagine how much more value that brings in terms of participant numbers and diversity.

Everyone who falls in the likely broad definition of your primary target audience will have one thing in common – they are all smartphone users. So you must attempt to identify these prospects the mobile way. Smart ways to find participants could be through the use of Facebook Ads or Google AdWords on mobile, or placing ads in other popular mobile news or social networking apps, that people commonly visit. You can also target your ads to community forums for more targeted outreach. An interesting kind of ad that can be printed on various media, would be one that has an embedded QR code that participants can scan using their mobile phone, to directly download the app!

  • Study a greater number of cohorts

Mobility is technology’s name for diversity! Capture participants with varied demographics for your mobile-app based study and as a result, create more cohorts than you thought was ever possible, to gather data and insights from. Mobility helps you get a rich diversity of subjects for research – people who belong to various geographical locations, different age groups, various ethnicities, having varied lifestyles and so on and so forth. The mobile medium helps you gather all this information and track data from various parts of the globe in real time. The possibilities are limitless!

  • Recruit for multiple studies in parallel

Gone are the days when a recruitment exercise for a study was a standalone exercise. Now it is possible to plan to launch several studies in parallel and also recruit participants in parallel. With the right technology assistance, you could build a framework of an app that allows you to spin up new studies, advertise for them and also run the participant onboarding process for each of them in parallel! All you would need to do is identify the attributes of the target group for each study carefully. Once you have this information, you could use it for targeted outreach and recruitment of participants. Frameworks like Apple ResearchKit when coupled with the right app design and backend technology expertise, can make it very easy for you to sponsor, manage or run various studies in parallel.

  • Educate prospect participants

This is key to gaining the confidence of prospects and motivating them to be a part of your study. Ensure your mobile ads say enough about your study to get people interested and to make them see how they can contribute. Leverage the Informed Consent module of Apple ResearchKit to ensure it is easy for them to understand and digest the study’s requirements and terms. To ensure they have understood it well, ask them to take a quick quiz at the end of the Informed Consent module – this will help people feel confident about participating in the study while also giving you the assurance that they are well-informed participants.

  • Participant follow-up and repeat recruitments

And this is the most interesting part! Ensure that you give something valuable in return to your participants for having taken the time and effort to be a part of your study. What they would value the most is getting insights and analysis into their habits, lifestyle or condition based upon the data they provided you with. This could be at an individual level or at a study population level but such insights are always appreciated as people then see the tangible value in contributing towards the study and its end goals.


You could also follow-up with participants after the study is over giving them regular tips, helpful advice or updates on what’s new in the field of the study. If people find this useful, they wouldn’t mind signing up for your next study as well or recommending the same to people they know. Give them options of advertising for your upcoming studies via simple Share options in the app to post on to social media or email/SMS people about your app.

These were some thoughts on the changing face of participant recruitment in the times of mobile-app based studies and research.

See the Apple ResearchKit based app in action. Click on the image to watch the demo!