A Cost, Time, and Demographic Analysis of Participant Recruitment and Urine Sample Collection Through Social Media Optimization

Prasun Sharma, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine Medical Student
Laura E. Lamb, Beaumont Health
Sarah N. Bartolone, Beaumont Health
Elijah P. Ward, Beaumont Health
Joseph J. Janicki, Beaumont Health
Kenneth M. Peters, Beaumont Health
Nitya Abraham
Melissa Laudano
Christopher P. Smith
Bernadette Zwaans, Beaumont Health
Michael B. Chancellor, Beaumont Health



Clinical research can be expensive and time consuming due to high associated costs and/or duration of the study. We hypothesized that urine sample collection using online recruitment and engagement of research participants via social medial has the potential to reach a large population in a small timeframe, at a reasonable cost.


We performed a retrospective cost analysis of a cohort study comparing cost per sample and time per sample for both online and clinically recruited participants for urine sample collection. During this time, cost data were collected based on study associated costs from invoices and budget spreadsheets. The data were subsequently analyzed using descriptive statistics.


Each sample collection kit contained 3 urine cups, 1 for the disease sample and 2 for control samples. Out of the 3,576 (1,192 disease + 2,384 control) total sample cups mailed, 1,254 (695 control) samples were returned. Comparatively, the 2 clinical sites collected 305 samples. Although the initial startup cost of online recruitment was higher, cost per sample for online recruited was found to be $81.45 compared to $398.14 for clinic sample.


We conducted a nationwide, contactless, urine sample collection through online recruitment in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results were compared with the samples collected in the clinical setting. Online recruitment can be utilized to collect urine samples rapidly, efficiently, and at a cost per sample that was 20% of an in-person clinic, and without risk of COVID-19 exposure.