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Recruit participants using our digital engagement tools

Learn how digital engagement tools in the UK can help you quickly and easily recruit research participants.

How digital engagement tools support research and recruitment

In the UK  a number of tools have been developed to harness the power of data and digital to increase the speed and efficiency of clinical trials. They do this by providing different ways for researchers and commercial sponsors to assess the feasibility of proposed research, and to find, recruit and follow up research participants.

The tools are developed by a number of different service providers and each is unique in the way it works, and the data it enables researchers to access.

This page describes NIHR-supported digital engagement tools and provides links to other digital service providers for you to explore.

What is a research registry? 

Research registries enable patients and members of the public to proactively volunteer to take part in research by capturing their 'consent to be contacted' about upcoming research opportunities.

Accessing established research registries as part of your research planning and recruitment strategy can offer many benefits for commercial sponsors, for example:

  • Supporting your feasibility assessments: Analyse the appetite for research in a specific condition or therapeutic area
  • A cost-efficient approach: Minimise the resource required to identify large numbers of potential participants
  • Faster recruitment: Focus your recruitment strategy on research-engaged volunteers to achieve your recruitment targets within planned timescales.

The primary research registry in the UK is the Be Part of Research registry.

Be Part of Research - the UK's largest research registry

The Be Part of Research registry is the first UK-wide registry for all health and care conditions. It is linked to the NHS A-Z of conditions, with patients or healthy volunteers able to search according to the NHS A-Z list.

The Be Part of Research registry gives researchers and sponsors free and easy access to research-engaged volunteers from across the UK - empowering study teams to achieve swift and efficient recruitment.

Be Part of Research supports a broad range of research - from lifestyle questionnaires to clinical trials - taking place at a range of research settings including local hospitals, GP surgeries, in care homes or community settings, or at home.

Volunteers sign up online and consent to be contacted about research opportunities in their region. They choose the conditions and research areas that interest them, or sign up as a healthy volunteer.

We select the most suitable volunteers for your study and invite them to take part via email. The volunteer then decides if they want to take part.

Our system enables us to identify volunteers for your study through a wide range of data including age, ethnic group, sex, location and health condition.

You can also list your study on the Be Part of Research platform where members of the public search for studies to take part in.

What studies are eligible for Be Part of Research?

To list your study on Be Part of Research and access participants, your study:

  • must be funded or supported by the NIHR. This includes commercially funded and/or commercially sponsored studies on the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio.
  • must have Research Ethics Committee approval to use the service as a recruitment tool. We can support you in any additional ethics submissions you might need to do.
  • must have a dedicated point of contact such as a pre-screener or website for interested volunteers to engage with your research team.

How Be Part of Research works

  1. Simple registration: Complete the study registration form. Our team will respond within five working days to discuss your study.
  2. Dedicated support: You will be allocated a contact to support you throughout the process.
  3. Advertise your study: Interested participants can view your study on the Be Part of website and volunteer directly.
  4. Find eligible participants: We will search the registry for participants using your study criteria and invite volunteers via email to participate in your study. Volunteers will be directed to your website or screening questionnaire for sign-up.

Learn more about registering your study on our Be Part of Research website

Join Dementia Research

Therapeutic-specific registries can also be accessed in the UK. We run Join Dementia Research in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, Alzheimer's Research UK and Alzheimer's Society. The service enables people to register their interest in participating in dementia research and be matched to suitable studies. Researchers can:

  • Identify potential participants
  • Screen and contact volunteers
  • Run feasibility tests for future studies

Learn more on the Join Dementia Research website.

More digital engagement tools

Funded or part-funded by the NIHR

Funded by other providers

Regional research registries

Regional options like Research+Me (North East England) and Research As One (City of Research collaboration in Bradford) also offer valuable resources. 

Related information

This is just one of the ways we help life science organisations to conduct research in the UK. Visit our NIHR support for industry page to discover our full range of support. You may also be interested  in: 

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