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      Broad Reach and Targeted Recruitment Using Facebook for an Online Survey of Young Adult Substance Use

      research-article
      , PhD 1 , , , PhD, MPH 1
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      Journal of Medical Internet Research
      Gunther Eysenbach
      social media, Facebook, participant recruitment, young adult, tobacco

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          Abstract

          Background

          Studies of tobacco use and other health behaviors have reported great challenges in recruiting young adults. Social media is widely used by young adults in the United States and represents a potentially fast, affordable method of recruiting study participants for survey research.

          Objective

          The present study examined Facebook as a mechanism to reach and survey young adults about tobacco and other substance use.

          Methods

          Participants were cigarette users, age 18-25 years old, living throughout the United States and recruited through Facebook to complete a survey about tobacco and other substance use. Paid advertising using Facebook’s Ad program over 13 months from 2010 Feb 28 to 2011 Apr 4 targeted by age (18-25), location (United States or California), language (English), and tobacco- and/or marijuana-related keywords. Facebook approved all ads.

          Results

          The campaign used 20 ads, which generated 28,683,151 impressions, yielding 14,808 clicks (0.7% of targeted Facebook members), at an overall cost of $6,628.24. The average cost per click on an ad was $0.45. The success of individual ads varied widely. There was a rise in both clicks and impressions as the campaign grew. However, the peak for clicks was 3 months before the peak for ad impressions. Of the 69,937,080 accounts for those age 18-25 in the United States, Facebook estimated that 2.8% (n = 1,980,240) were reached through tobacco and marijuana keywords. Our campaign yielded 5237 signed consents (35.4% of clicks), of which 3093 (59%) met criteria, and 1548 (50% of those who met criteria) completed the survey. The final cost per valid completed survey was $4.28. The majority of completed surveys came from whites (69%) and males (72%). The sample averaged 8.9 cigarettes per day (SD 7.5), 3.8 years of smoking (SD 2.9), with a median of 1 lifetime quit attempts; 48% did not intend to quit smoking in the next 6 months.

          Conclusions

          Despite wide variety in the success of individual ads and potential concerns about sample representativeness, Facebook was a useful, cost-effective recruitment source for young-adult smokers to complete a survey about the use of tobacco and other substances. The current findings support Facebook as a viable recruitment option for assessment of health behavior in young adults.

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          Most cited references20

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          Stages and processes of self-change of smoking: toward an integrative model of change.

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            Collecting behavioural data using the world wide web: considerations for researchers.

            To identify and describe advantages, challenges, and ethical considerations of web based behavioural data collection. This discussion is based on the authors' experiences in survey development and study design, respondent recruitment, and internet research, and on the experiences of others as found in the literature. The advantages of using the world wide web to collect behavioural data include rapid access to numerous potential respondents and previously hidden populations, respondent openness and full participation, opportunities for student research, and reduced research costs. Challenges identified include issues related to sampling and sample representativeness, competition for the attention of respondents, and potential limitations resulting from the much cited "digital divide", literacy, and disability. Ethical considerations include anonymity and privacy, providing and substantiating informed consent, and potential risks of malfeasance. Computer mediated communications, including electronic mail, the world wide web, and interactive programs will play an ever increasing part in the future of behavioural science research. Justifiable concerns regarding the use of the world wide web in research exist, but as access to, and use of, the internet becomes more widely and representatively distributed globally, the world wide web will become more applicable. In fact, the world wide web may be the only research tool able to reach some previously hidden population subgroups. Furthermore, many of the criticisms of online data collection are common to other survey research methodologies.
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              International Spanish/English Internet smoking cessation trial yields 20% abstinence rates at 1 year.

              There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide. Traditional smoking cessation methods, such as nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation groups, yield between 14% and 27% abstinence rates at 6 months. Evidence-based Internet interventions with comparable abstinence rates could be a powerful global tool to reduce tobacco-related morbidity and mortality. We report a randomized control trial in which 500 Spanish-speaking and 500 English-speaking adult Internet users, smoking at least 5 cigarettes/day and intending to quit in the next month, were recruited online from 68 countries. Consenting participants who completed baseline measures, logged cigarettes smoked on 3 days within a week, and set a quit date were randomized to four conditions. Each condition added new elements: Condition 1 was the "Guía Para Dejar de Fumar," a static National Cancer Institute evidence-based stop smoking guide; Condition 2 consisted of Condition 1 plus E-mail reminders to return to the site; Condition 3 consisted of Condition 2 plus mood management lessons; and Condition 4 consisted of Condition 3 plus a "virtual group" (an asynchronous bulletin board). Main outcome measures were 7-day point prevalence abstinence at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after initial quit date. There were no significant differences among the four conditions. The overall 12-month 7-day abstinence rates were 20.2% for Spanish speakers and 21.0% for English speakers when those with missing data were assumed to be smoking. Internet smoking cessation interventions with such abstinence rates provided globally in additional languages could contribute substantially to tobacco control efforts.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                Gunther Eysenbach (JMIR Publications Inc., Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                Jan-Feb 2012
                23 February 2012
                : 14
                : 1
                : e28
                Affiliations
                [1] 1simpleDepartment of Psychiatry simpleUniversity of California, San Francisco San Francisco, CAUnited States
                Article
                v14i1e28
                10.2196/jmir.1878
                3374532
                22360969
                b3924ad1-9c3b-425b-8168-c7fc934affaa
                ©Danielle E. Ramo, Judith J. Prochaska. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 23.02.2012.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                History
                : 29 June 2011
                : 13 September 2011
                : 05 December 2011
                : 02 January 2012
                Categories
                Original Paper

                Medicine
                social media, facebook, participant recruitment, young adult, tobacco
                Medicine
                social media, facebook, participant recruitment, young adult, tobacco

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