Health Disparities and Clinical Trial Recruitment: Is There a Duty to Tweet?

Posted: Mar 06, 2017
PLoS Biol. 15. 3. e200204.
KEYWORDS: Black or African-American, Hispanic or Latino, Social Media


Social media sites have enormous potential for balancing out unfair sampling within clinical trials. 

Why this item may be useful

Despite some success, little clinical trial recruitment is done through social media. One barrier may be the issue of ensuring privacy in the online recruitment setting. Researchers need to ensure that their presence is known in online spaces so that they are not perceived as invasive by those involved in intimate, supportive patient networks. Posting recruitment notices to the Facebook page of a patient or advocacy group or by asking a community leader to retweet, repost, or share a message or link is a recommended practice. Online recruiters must be careful to stay within the bounds of the applicable guidelines and, as with traditional recruitment methods, avoid a promise of cure or the benefit of 'free medical treatment.'


  • Inequalities related to race and gender exist at every stage of clinical trials. 
  • 86% of Americans are online and four-fifths use the internet to look for health information.
  • 28% of black and Hispanic internet users have Twitter accounts.
  • 47% of black and 38% of Hispanic internet users have Instagram accounts.