Peers are an important determinant of health and well-being during late adolescence; however, there is limited quantitative research examining peer influence. Previous peer network research with adolescents faced methodological limitations and difficulties recruiting young people.
This study aims to determine whether a web-based peer network survey is effective at recruiting adolescent peer networks by comparing 2 strategies for reimbursement.
This study will use a 2-group randomized trial design to test the effectiveness of reimbursements for peer referral in a web-based cross-sectional peer network survey. Young people aged 16-18 years recruited through Instagram, Snapchat, and a survey panel will be randomized to receive either scaled group reimbursement (the experimental group) or fixed individual reimbursement (the control group). All participants will receive a reimbursement of Aus $5 (US $3.70) for their own survey completion. In the experimental group (scaled group reimbursement), all participants within a peer network will receive an additional Aus $5 (US $3.70) voucher for each referred participant who completes the study, up to a maximum total value of Aus $30 (US $22.20) per participant. In the control group (fixed individual reimbursement), participants will only be reimbursed for their own survey completion. Participants’ peer networks are assessed during the survey by asking about their close friends. A unique survey link will be generated to share with the participant’s nominated friends for the recruitment of secondary participants. Outcomes are the proportion of a participant’s peer network and the number of referred peers who complete the survey. The required sample size is 306 primary participants. Using a multilevel logistic regression model, we will assess the effect of the reimbursement intervention on the proportion of primary participants’ close friends who complete the survey. The secondary aim is to determine participant characteristics that are associated with successfully recruiting close friends. Young people aged 16-18 years were involved in the development of the study design through focus groups and interviews (n=26).
A longitudinal web-based social network study could provide important data on how social networks and their influence change over time. This trial aims to determine whether scaled group reimbursement can increase the number of peers referred. The outcomes of this trial will improve the recruitment of young people to web-based network studies of sensitive health issues.