Five Effective Panelist Recruiting Strategies

Effective panelist-recruiting strategies are key to enrolling and completing clinical trials on time.  The strategies each site uses will largely depend on a study’s eligibility criteria, resources available (money, people, software, etc.), the type of site (doctor’s office, clinical research site, hospital, etc.) and physical location.  At Stephens, we have found success with 5 key recruitment strategies.

1. Recruiting Plan

We spend time planning how we will approach recruiting for each study.  This includes weekly meetings with recruiters, our marketing department, clinic staff, and study Investigators.  We then formulate our strategy using multiple recruiting resources.

We will also hold the occasional Open Screening Day, when we invite panelists from our current database to bring family and friends to our facility on a given morning, afternoon, or evening. We then screen them to see what study or studies they would qualify for.

2. Marketing Plan

Having an effective marketing plan is just as important.  Our goal is to ensure that our in-house recruiters have enough leads to contact, and that the leads are quality leads.  Our advertising channels and methods depend on the study eligibility and budget.  We have found that advertising through social media and emailing our current panelist database gives us the quickest and most cost-effective results for a majority of our studies.

An ongoing activity is our Community Outreach and Ambassador Program.  Both programs aim to increase positive awareness of Stephens throughout the community as a study site, employer, and  business.

3. The Right Tools

Stephens uses 3 state-of-the-art tools to manage study recruitment successfully and cost-effectively:

Recruiting Software

This allows us to record our communication with panelists, track panelists’ studies and  traits (demographics, skin type, and different conditions), and schedule panelists.  The recruiting software interacts with our website, so people can apply for studies there and be funneled directly into the recruiting software as “interested” panelists.  The recruiters can call from this prequalified list.

Forecasting Tools

Based on our decades of clinical research and study recruitment, we have developed tools to forecast how many leads we will need, the number of panelists we need to see, screen, and enroll, and how many recruiters we will need to do it.


We track a variety of metrics to measure our month-to-month success and show us what works best.

4. Positive Work Environment

At Stephens, we have noticed the importance of fostering a positive work environment in recruiting for studies.  When recruiting team members are happy, they have a good attitude, less absenteeism, less stress, and greater productivity. This carries over to their interactions with panelists and their relationships over time.  We hold office potlucks, play music, hold occasional games that encourage productivity, and, most importantly, actively encourage our team members to support and respect each other.

5. Referring Panelists Within the Clinic

Most of our studies require panelists to qualify by a visual assessment of conditions such as wrinkles or acne, or by a certain measurement of a characteristic such as skin moisture.  These qualification criteria are difficult to screen for over the phone, so a panelist may disqualify at the screening visit.  If this occurs, the Investigator will always see if there is another one of our many ongoing other studies for which the panelist could qualify. If so, one of our on-site recruiters will screen and schedule the panelist. The panelist walks away happy that their time wasn’t wasted, encouraging them to respond positively next time our recruiters call them. We constantly strive to limit disqualifications by refining our screening process and forecasting tools.

For more information about our capabilities, to have us conduct or manage aspects of a study for you, contact Brooke Stephens at [email protected] or call 972-392-1529 ext. 234.