STAR Researchers Frequently Asked Questions

Should I contact STAR even before I submit my grant?

Yes, we recommend contacting STAR as soon as possible. The STAR team will work with you to run a free preliminary query to ensure STAR will be a beneficial recruitment resource for your study. If you determine that STAR is a good fit for your study, the STAR team can also assist with recruitment feasibility language for grant proposals.

How to request research study participants? 

A. Complete the brief Subject Request Form, providing basic information about the study and include a copy of the IRB approval letter and stamped Consent Form.

B. Review the STAR Registry Health Questionnaire in order to list all fields to be used for inclusion or exclusion criteria (including gender, age, medical conditions etc.).

C. The Principal Investigator must review and sign the User Agreement Form.

After we receive the information mentioned above, we will review your application. Once your study is accepted, the number of potentially eligible volunteers can be identified. You may choose the size of your mailing at that time. The STAR team will mail the recruitment materials that you supply, to your chosen number of targeted volunteers, along with our STAR cover letter. Your recruitment material should be simple and eye catching, and refer interested volunteers to a specific contact for more information.

Costs associated with facilitating recruitment?

At no cost, STAR staff will run a preliminary query to provide a general idea of how many volunteers we may have that would qualify for your study. This free preliminary query will help you determine whether STAR can meet your needs.

The STAR Registry mails your study recruitment materials to members of the STAR Registry who are identified as likely to qualify for your study, based on your inclusion/exclusion criteria. There is a $50 flat fee for the actual query, plus $2 per recruitment package mailed (e.g., mailing to 100 people would cost a total of $250, including the $50 flat fee plus $200 to mail 100 recruitment packages). There is also an option to email recruitment material for $0.25 per recruitment packet emailed (emailing to 100 people would cost a total of $75, including the $50 flat fee plus $25 to email 100 recruitment packages). The STAR team will work with you to determine the best option for your specific study.

Statistical concerns?

The STAR registry may be used to recruit subjects for a wide array of studies, including studies based on focus groups, panel/cohort studies, case control studies, and clinical trials. The registry can also serve as the basis for studies intended for instrument development or biomarker and physiological methods development. Exploratory and pilot studies coordinated through the registry may facilitate the formulation of hypothesis and power/sample size determinations for larger scale studies.

The most common sources of bias in human studies are selection bias, non-response bias, and response bias. As with any volunteer registry, studies based on the STAR registry are subject to selection bias. Similarly, studies based on STAR may be subject to non-response bias, since some of the registrants who are approached for a study may decline to participate. Aside from survey studies based on national databases such as NHANES and NHIS, where samples are carefully drawn and results are weighted to account for underrepresentation, virtually any human-subjects study conducted within the realm of biomedicine and public health would involve selection bias.

Since STAR registrants are not randomly sampled from the local population of older adults, they are not necessarily representative of this population. Thus, results from studies based on the STAR registry cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the general population of all older adults, in Iowa or beyond. However, results can be extrapolated to a larger group of seniors sharing the same demographic characteristics as the STAR registrants. Almost all clinical studies are on highly selected patient populations, but these studies often lead to very important results. Volunteer populations are particularly useful for studies of proof of concept or proof of principle, but they may also be directly relevant to general cohorts of older adults.

Boilerplate for new grant proposals?

The Institute for Clinical and Translational Science encourages investigators who are writing new grants to include the STAR Registry as a resource to support their research. Identifying STAR in your grant proposal may help demonstrate capacity to successfully recruit subjects. In addition, budgeting STAR costs into new proposals ensures funding in the grant to allow investigators to utilize STAR as much as necessary. The following link allows investigators to download boilerplate text describing the STAR Registry for insertion into grant proposals.

Download the STAR boilerplate