Article Title

Enrolling Patients in the Sutter Health Biobank: Lessons Learned From Testing Different Recruitment Methods

Publication Date



genetics, genomics


Background: Multiple methods may be used to recruit patients for research. These vary in resources required, including monetary costs and staff time, as well as in “yield,” the proportion of people approached who agree to participate. Biobanking is a new and growing area of health research that presents a variety of logistical considerations from recruitment to enrollment.

Methods: A pilot study was conducted to test different strategies for the Sutter Health Biobank recruitment of a general/healthy population sample. Patients were first contacted either by an email or a traditional letter. Patients could choose to not be further contacted about the study. Follow-up contact options included an email, letter or phone call. The initial recruitment material invited the patient to a website with more information about the biobank and a consent form. After a patient accesses the site and either accepts or declines participation, a brief quality improvement question was asked about why they made their decision.

Results: The results of the pilot study will describe the outcomes of each recruitment strategy from the staff time and cost per number of enrolled biobank participants. Demographic factors about those who participate, decline participation or do not respond will be available from the electronic health records for additional context.

Conclusion: Different recruitment methods have different tradeoffs in terms of effort put in and the outcome of biobank enrollment. These results may indicate that certain strategies are more effective for some populations compared to other populations. For hard-to-reach patients or for those with more questions or concerns, a phone call may encourage reviewing the biobank materials before deciding whether to accept or decline participation.




June 30th, 2017


August 10th, 2017