How can a subway help with recruitment?

Image of the depression research recruitment subway ad

(April 2014) Depression research presents unique barriers to recruitment, ranging from challenging protocol requirements to overcoming the feelings of hopelessness that prevent people with depression from taking action. The Health Communication Core is working with the Depression Clinical and Research Program (DCRP) at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to address these recruitment challenges and increase participation in depression research.

Addressing barriers to research participation

Based on information collected during discussions with the program’s investigators and staff, and published data on depression recruitment, we developed a communication strategy and key messages to address participation barriers and to leverage what is important to potential participants. While working on a new website for the program, we were asked to develop subway ads for a study on anxious depression in women.

Having messaging already developed and graphic direction already underway allowed us to quickly respond with two ads—one running inside subway cars and another on external signage at subway stations. The ads highlight benefits of participation, such as free medication and follow-up care, and leverage MGH’s leadership in depression research to assure potential participants that “We understand depression.” The graphic approach affirms that, although things feel dark, MGH can help people with depression find their way forward into clarity and brightness.

Women who respond to the ads will be asked, as part of their screening process, what attracted their interest and motivated them to contact the DCRP. This feedback will help inform further development of the program’s visuals and messages.