Lockdown Limitations: Adapting Research Recruitment and Knowledge Translation to a Virtual World


By Frannie MacKenzie

Over the past year, the landscape for research recruitment and communications has quickly evolved to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the tools and messages once shared in person – like bulletin boards in clinics, or opportunities to engage directly with patients – have been re-imagined to fit within the constraints of virtual platforms. For some teams, this has created barriers for reaching their audiences.

Fortunately, partnerships with stakeholders and partner organizations have proven to be an invaluable asset in creating a bridge between researchers and their audiences. It is important to foster these partnerships by acknowledging their time and efforts supporting your project. One simple way to do this is to create a tool that allows them to easily understand, access, and promote the content you are asking them to share on your behalf. We call this a communications toolkit.

A communications toolkit is a package of information you aim to share, with guidance for its intended use. Communications toolkits are often used to share recruitment materials, findings, publications, products, or other information. Given the shift to a virtual research environment we have created a simple template that could be repurposed for research recruitment or knowledge translation activities, to promote this practice in our community. The original template was first adapted from a communications toolkit to promote recruitment opportunities for Dr. Michelle Chan’s ECELLA study. We shared it with partners who had direct access to the specific population Dr. Chan needed to reach which allowed us to promptly reach our target recruitment goal.

These toolkits are a great way to consolidate content you create for your research in one easily accessible place. It is also important to note that the benefits extend beyond communications – they are a great package to include in your ethics application, since they outline all visual and written assets you will use to promote your research. 

  • Download our Communications Toolkit: to use the toolkit, access the File menu and download a copy. You can then edit the template to fit your own project needs.
  • Watch our webinar about using the communications toolkit, using social media ads, and mobile apps to recruit and promote findings.