Use of Email to Communicate with Study Participants

Can researchers email study participants? Can researchers recruit study participants via email?

REO - 14 February 2019

As the designated REB for research being conducted by and/or under the jurisdiction of the University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services, and Covenant Health, the REB must only approve of processes that adhere to established Institutional guidance and policies related to the use of email when considering requests to communicate with participants in this manner.

Additionally, it is the opinion of the REB that a researcher has a fiduciary obligation to protect the privacy of the research participant and to not create a situation where they may be harmed by a breach of privacy and/or confidentiality.

To support researchers in creating applications which can achieve the above objections, the following guidance is being provided in regards to the use of email to communicate with research participants.

Note: If you are not dealing with Health Information as defined in the Health Information Act, this guidance does not apply specifically. However, since email is not a secure method of communication the principles contained within the guidance should still be employed and you should avoid transmitting any personal or sensitive information when emailing with study participants.

You can also find the Email Guidance in the Forms Cabinet section of our website.