Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention Certificate Program

Building Skills to Enhance Equitable, Diverse, and Inclusive Practices in Clinical Research Participant Interactions

The Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention (ER&R) Certificate Program is a certificate and skills-building program designed for clinical research study teams. The intention of the program is to expand competence in these practices and provide the tools and confidence necessary for staff to take steps toward being more inclusive in their ER&R practices.

Program Goals

  1. Develop a cohort of engagement, recruitment, and retention specialists who are able to advocate for inclusive research engagement practices and serve as resources for their clinical research units, departments, and divisions.
  2. Bolster the skills that are necessary for meaningful and inclusive engagement, recruitment, and retention of all communities in research.
  3. Assist study teams with strategies to equitably engage participants and communities.

Nomination period for 2025 Cohort:

December 11, 2024 - January 17th, 2025

A total of 9 classes are required to complete the program and with around 2 classes each month.

Study teams are busy! That’s why the program is spread out over 6 months. We’ve estimated approximately 18 hours of commitment (with around 4 hours per month) to the program, which includes any pre-learning, classroom and online instruction, and optional journaling prompts and wiki shares with the cohort.

Program elements: 

  • 1 Online Pre-Requisite = ~30 min 
  • 6 Core Courses = ~9 hrs 
  • 3 Electives = ~5 hrs 
  • Pre-work, Online Modules, and Wiki Shares ~ 20 minutes on average per class. 

Total time = ~ 18 hrs over 6 months

Please note that taking additional electives (there are 7 to choose from) is beneficial, but will add additional time. 

All courses are 1 to 2 hours long. Courses will be held toward the beginning of the day or end of the day. All courses are currently held via Zoom - if anything changes program participants will be notified. Some courses have online pre-learning associated that must be completed for program credit. 

2024 Cohort Course Schedule (Feb 2024 - Aug 2024)

2023 Cohort Course Schedule (Feb 2023 - Aug 2023)

2022 Cohort Course Schedule (June 2022 - Dec 2022)

Fall 2021 Cohort Course Schedule (Sept 2021 - Feb 2022)

Course dates and titles are subject to change based on facilitator needs and program participants will be notified in case of changes. Participants are required to choose three electives to complete the certificate program but may attend them all if desired.


Core courses

Participants attend all core courses to receive certificates. 


Clinical Research Recruitment Regulations, Best Practices, and Tools (ONLINE) - This online course includes information about the Engagement Policy, best practices for being thoughtful and inclusive when planning for recruitment, obtaining IRB approval for your recruitment plans and materials, branding requirements when you’re targeting Duke Health patients, and Maestro Care tools that support your efforts to identify people who are eligible for your studies. Program participants must complete the online course and interact with one another on the course Wiki to receive credit.


Just Ask: Equity and Diversity in Clinical Research – In this workshop we will work through framing the ‘why’ of being mindful and intentional in our work to engage and recruit a diverse population of research participants. This interactive training focuses on the impact of implicit bias in clinical research/trial recruitment. Participants will learn about the current state of diversity in clinical research and why a focus on inclusive participation is important step toward health equity. Additionally, participants will discuss how personal beliefs and attitudes affect approaches to recruitment and practice strategies to increase participant diversity. There is an online module, Just Ask: Intro to Diversity in Clinical Research, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.

Smarter to be Understood: Improving Readability in Participant Engagement Materials - A guide to  health literacy and readability when creating participant engagement materials. Participants will learn strategies to support and confirm participant understanding of study materials. We’ll discuss tools you can use to design your materials ( from consent forms and concise summaries to websites, flyers and brochures) to be more inclusive and readable by all potential participants.There is an online module, Readability Fundamentals & Participant-Facing Engagement Materials, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.

Active Listening to Enhance Respect and Awareness of Participant Perspectives - In a highly regulated environment, it can be difficult to maintain our respect and awareness of the participant perspective, especiallygiventhe tension between “achieving recruitment numbers” andworkingwith diverse participants who arereal people embedded in very dynamic personal, social and family lives.We will work on building our capacity for hearing others to help us move beyond “does this person meet the eligibility criteria?” to  “is this study right for this person at this time in their lives?”Course participants will learn how to use active listening to support participant-centered recruitment approaches and enhance relationships with participants and beyond.

Using Social Marketing Principles to Design Your Engagement Strategy - Learn about social marketing and how it can be used to develop your recruitment material and advertise studies. Learn about strategies, such as formative research, which can help you recognize and reach your audience with messages that will resonate with them. Start asking yourself questions like “who am I trying to reach and what do I know about them, where do they seek information, and what is important to them at this moment in their healthcare or personal lives?” so you can develop recruitment strategies that will resonate with a variety of diverse audiences.

Building Trust and Partnerships in Clinical Research - A dive intothe importance of trust and trustworthiness to the partnerships between study team andparticipant and researchers and thecommunityat large. We will discuss these concepts along with strategies forensuringpositive research interactions with diverse communities thatlive beyond individualstudy participation and create clinical research champions across communities. 

Retention: The Challenges and Opportunities - Participants start making decisions about participation in research long before the first visit, and continue making decisions throughout recruitment, consent, and study participation. In this course, we will discuss the importanceof strong retention to research in general, with a focus onrelationship-building and other tools to build our chances of retaining participants from recruitment through the consent process and study participation. There is an online module, Strategies to Support Retention of Clinical Research Participants, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.


Elective Courses

Participants choose 3 courses to attend. 
Note:  Participants are required to choose three electives to complete the certificate program but may attend them all if desired.

Engaging Partners in Clinical Research With an increasing focus on patient-centeredness and engaging partners across and beyond the research enterprise, knowing how to identify and engage a variety of partners has become essential to the success of an equitable, diverse, and inclusive clinical research study. Understand the fundamental principles of partner engagement and learn how and when to identify and engage with partners in support of your research study. There is an online module, Community and Stakeholder Engagement: Definitions, Principles, and Approaches, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.

Social Media: Is it Right for Your Research? - Learn the ins and outs of leveraging social media for research. Attendees will review questions to ask to determine if having a social media presence is right for your research. We will also discuss how you can leverage existing channels to promote your research when you don’t have a dedicated handle. Presenters will share how to develop an inclusive social media plan including generating inclusive content, developing a content calendar, and measuring success. We’ll review common terms, resources, best practices, and case examples including a Facebook ad campaign. There is an online module, Using Social Media for Study Recruitment: Questions to Consider, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.

Community-Engaged Research Initiatives (CEnR) - According to the CDC, community-engaged research (CEnR) is “the process of working collaboratively with groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interests, or similar situations with respect to issues affecting their well-being.” CEnR can take on many forms and may include a wide variety of stakeholders, including hospitals and health systems, community organizations and leadership, community members, local institutions and agencies. In this class, you will learn the principles that undergird community-engaged research, the difference between CEnR and traditional health research, the spectrum of engagement opportunities, and how CEnR can support research that is inclusive and reduces disparities and inequities. There is an online module, Community and Stakeholder Engagement: Definitions, Principles, and Approaches, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.

Telling the Story of Your Research - Learn how to communicate about research in a variety of situations to a variety of diverse audiences. With an emphasis on developingyourability to be respectful and aware of different perspectives,make research inviting rather than overwhelming, and use tools todevelop engaging summaries of study results. 

Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention on a Shoestring Budget - Learn about identifying and accounting for the real costs of recruitment and retention and the effort needed to support robust inclusive and participant-centered strategies and tactics. Discuss strategies to develop a recruitment plan while using a limited recruitment budget wisely. 

Remote Informed Consent: Best Practices in Design and Delivery - In the midst of our new remote reality, many study teams have altered workflows to support conducting consent activities remotely. In this workshop, we will discuss the design and delivery of your remote electronic consents to ensure you are following principles of readability, human cognition, and learning (e.g. cognitive load, narration, coherence, signaling, redundancy, personalization, and inclusivity). We will consider some of the social and ethical dynamics known to affect people’s attitudes and preferences with respect to remote consenting, such as online access, digital literacy, and trust, so we can be more inclusive with our methods of consenting participants. There is an online module, Elements of Effective eConsent Design, in addition to the in-person session that must be completed for credit.

The 5T’s: A Framework to Support Inclusion of Older Adults in Research - This course will provide a practical approach for including older adults in research. We will address case examples related to recruiting older adults, discuss the scope of the problem (why) and how the 5T’s were implemented, define the 5T’s, identify ways to apply the 5T’s to your studies, and discuss a potential application for other special populations (e.g. rare disease, pediatric, and typically underrepresented populations).

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- 4.0 International License. We are happy to share the Program Implementation Plan and our repository of course materials with other institutions to aid in implementing similar programming. If you are interested in accessing our repository of materials and implementation plan, please complete the request form. 

Request Form 

If you have any questions, contact us.

Contact Us 

Read our manuscript to learn more about implementation of the ER&R program at Duke. Please cite this publication in any manuscripts or other publications that result from use of these materials. 

Cranfill, J., Freel, S., Deeter, C., Snyder, D., Naggie, S., Barrett, N., & Roberts, J. (August 2022). Development and Evaluation of a Novel Training Program to Build Study Staff Skills in Equitable and Inclusive Engagement, Recruitment, and Retention of Clinical Research Participants. Journal of Clinical and Translational Science, 1-38, https://doi.org/10.1017/cts.2022.456

Can I attend a class without being nominated for the full program?

Yes, if there is extra space you may attend elective courses without being enrolled in the program. However, the core courses are reserved for those who are in the program.

Individual registration for courses will open in the LMS after the certificate program participants have registered. At that point, you may register on a first-come-first-served basis as there will be limited space in each class.

Who should be nominated for the program?

Managers are invited to nominate clinical research staff who perform participant engagement, recruitment and retention activities, who are interested in developing additional competencies in these topics, and/or whom they believe additional training would make them good resource in their units. There are limited spaces in the program (~30) in hopes that we can facilitate open conversation among those in the cohort. Please keep this in mind when nominating individuals from your CRU.  

If you are an employee who is interested in the program, please consult with your manager for nomination.

What are the components of the program and what can I expect if I am nominated?

The curriculum features:

  • Expert instruction in requested topics around inclusive engagement, recruitment, and retention
  • Engaging and thought-provoking material and interactions
  • Mixed modes of instruction to maximize learning
  • Wiki access for continuous resource sharing among the cohort
  • A network of peers and resources to turn to for help 
  • An opportunity to evaluate the program and provide feedback to enhance it for future attendees

Additionally, those who complete the program will receive a certificate that can be displayed as evidence of career development and used as a resource for tier advancement.

Program Steering Team 

This program is supported in part by the Clinical and Translational Science Award (NIH Award UL1TR002553) and is run by the Participant and Clinical Interactions Core (Duke Office of Clinical Research) and the Recruitment Innovation Center with significant contributions from the Equity in Research Core and Community Engaged Research Initiatives Core. 

Jessica Cranfill
Manager, Education & Outreach 
CTSA Participant and Clinical Interactions (PCI) Core 
Duke Office of Clinical Research 

Stephanie Freel, Ph.D.
Director, Clinical Research Education & Outreach
CTSA Participant and Clinical Interactions (PCI) Core 
Duke Office of Clinical Research 

Jamie Roberts
Research Practice Manager
Duke Cancer Institute

Nicholas Eberlein
Project Planner
CTSI Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC)

Sierra Lindo
Project Planner
CTSI Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC)

Michael Musty
Research Program Leader II
CTSI Recruitment Innovation Center (RIC)

Dr. Nadine Barrett, Ph.D.
Director, CTSI Equity and Community Stakeholder Strategy Pillar
Director, CTSI Center for Equity in Research
Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Duke School of Medicine
Associate Director, Equity, Community and Stakeholder Strategy, Duke Cancer Institute

Course Facilitators and Content Experts:

Karl Leif Bates
Executive Director of Research Communications
University Communications, Duke

Dr. Christopher Barrett Bowling, M.D.
Associate Professor of Medicine
Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences
Senior Fellow of the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development

Kenisha Bethea
Research Program Leader
CTSI Community Engaged Research Initiative

Ceci Chamorro
Associate Director, Research Operations - Data Team
CTSI Participant and Clinical Interactions (PCI) Core
Duke Office of Clinical Research 

Dr. Leonor Corsino, M.D.
Co-Director for the Duke CTSI- Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERI)
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition
Associate Professor in Population Health Sciences
Associate Dean of Students Affairs/Duke School of Medicine
Associate Director, Duke School of Medicine Master of Biomedical Sciences

Dr. Rowena Dolor, M.D.
Professor of Medicine
Assistant Professor in Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences
Director, Duke Primary Care Research Consortium

Renee Leverty
Program Lead, DCRI Stakeholder Engagement, and DCRI Research Together
Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI)

Eve Marion
Clinical Trials Project Leader
Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI)

Leatrice Martin
Senior Program Coordinator
CTSI Community Engaged Research Initiative

Pam Maxson, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff and Strategy
Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute

Sabrena Mervin-Blake
Former Staff Director
CTSI Community Engaged Research Initiative 

Vincent Miller
Project Lead, New Technology
Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI)

Raquel Ruiz, M.B.A, M.A.Ed
CTSI Equity and Learning Health Communities Pillar

Brian Southwell, Ph.D.
Adjunct Professor for Duke SSRI
Program Director, Science in the Public Sphere, RTI International
Duke Social Science Research Institute

Jennifer Thomas
Clinical Research Coordinator II
Duke Population Health Sciences