Where health information may be conveyed, the REB understands that use of email for recruitment purposes does not meet the privacy and security standards outlined in the AHS email policy (provide link?). As such, the REB is unlikely to approve of any email-based methods of recruitment where personal health information is directly linked to the email. Other scenarios will be considered on a case-by-case basis, ensuring compliance with AHS and University of Alberta policies. Where email recruitment can be used, it is imperative that no reference to the individual’s health diagnosis be included in the subject line of the email. The subject line should be generic, i.e., “Invitation to participate in a research project” instead of “Invitation to participate in a research project for those living with Diabetes”. Additionally, the use of email should be in accordance with the REB’s “Use of Email to Communicate with Study Participants Guidance” and best practices. The researcher must submit the subject line along with the email content for approval by the REB.
The use of email for recruitment can be a useful tool, particularly for online survey invitations. Care must also be taken to project the privacy of the recipient of the email. As with health research, an individual’s privacy can be compromised depending on the subject of the research. Therefore, the subject line should be as generic as possible. The REB must approve both the content of the email as well as the subject line. Additionally, the use of email should be in accordance with the REB’s “Use of Email to Communicate with Study Participants Guidance” and best practices.
Third Party Email Recruitment
Where a third party, i.e., data custodian or other entity, sends out the recruitment email on behalf of the research team, a copy of that email should be submitted to the REB for approval.