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      Recruiting Migrants for Health Research Through Social Network Sites: An Online Survey Among Chinese Migrants in Australia

      , PGDip(Public Health) 1 , , , MBBS, MSc, FRACGP 2 , 3 , , BMed, MSc, PhD 1
      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)
      JMIR Research Protocols
      JMIR Publications Inc.
      Chinese migrants, online survey, recruiting

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          Traditionally, postal surveys or face to face interviews are the main approaches for health researchers to obtain essential research data. However, with the prevalence of information technology and Internet, Web-based surveys are gaining popularity in health research.


          This study aims to report the process and outcomes of recruiting Chinese migrants through social network sites in Australia and to examine the sample characteristics of online recruitment by comparing the sample which was recruited by an online survey to a sample of Australian Chinese migrants collected by a postal survey.


          Descriptive analyses were performed to describe and compare the process and outcomes of online recruitment with postal survey questionnaires. Chi square tests and t tests were performed to assess the differences between the two samples for categorical and continuous variables respectively.


          In total, 473 Chinese migrants completed the online health survey from July to October 2013. Out of 426 participants recruited through the three Chinese social network sites in Australia, over 86.6% (369/426) were recruited within six weeks. Participants of the Web-based survey were younger, with a higher education level or had resided in Australia for less time compared to those recruited via a postal survey. However, there was no significant difference in gender, marital status, and professional occupation.


          The recruitment of Chinese migrants through social network sites in our online survey was feasible. Compared to a postal survey of Chinese migrants, the online survey attracted different group of Chinese migrants who may have diverse health needs and concerns. Our findings provided insightful information for researchers who are considering employing a Web-based approach to recruit migrants and ethnic minority participants.

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          Web-based questionnaires: the future in epidemiology?

          The traditional epidemiologic modes of data collection, including paper-and-pencil questionnaires and interviews, have several limitations, such as decreasing response rates over the last decades and high costs in large study populations. The use of Web-based questionnaires may be an attractive alternative but is still scarce in epidemiologic research because of major concerns about selective nonresponse and reliability of the data obtained. The authors discuss advantages and disadvantages of Web-based questionnaires and current developments in this area. In addition, they focus on some practical issues and safety concerns involved in the application of Web-based questionnaires in epidemiologic research. They conclude that many problems related to the use of Web-based questionnaires have been solved or will most likely be solved in the near future and that this mode of data collection offers serious benefits. However, questionnaire design issues may have a major impact on response and completion rates and on reliability of the data. Theoretically, Web-based questionnaires could be considered an alternative or complementary mode in the range of epidemiologic methods of data collection. Practice and comparisons with the traditional survey techniques should reveal whether they can fulfill their expectations.
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            Web-Based Recruiting for Health Research Using a Social Networking Site: An Exploratory Study

            Background Recruitment of young people for health research by traditional methods has become more expensive and challenging over recent decades. The Internet presents an opportunity for innovative recruitment modalities. Objective To assess the feasibility of recruiting young females using targeted advertising on the social networking site Facebook. Methods We placed an advertisement on Facebook from May to September 2010, inviting 16- to 25-year-old females from Victoria, Australia, to participate in a health study. Those who clicked on the advertisement were redirected to the study website and were able to express interest by submitting their contact details online. They were contacted by a researcher who assessed eligibility and invited them to complete a health-related survey, which they could do confidentially and securely either at the study site or remotely online. Results A total of 551 females responded to the advertisement, of whom 426 agreed to participate, with 278 completing the survey (139 at the study site and 139 remotely). Respondents’ age distribution was representative of the target population, while 18- to 25-year-olds were more likely to be enrolled in the study and complete the survey than 16- to 17-year-olds (prevalence ratio = 1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.05–1.78, P = .02). The broad geographic distribution (major city, inner regional, and outer regional/remote) and socioeconomic profile of participants matched the target population. Predictors of participation were older age, higher education level, and higher body mass index. Average cost in advertising fees per compliant participant was US $20, making this highly cost effective. Conclusions Results demonstrate the potential of using modern information and communication technologies to engage young women in health research and penetrate into nonurban communities. The success of this method has implications for future medical and population research in this and other demographics.
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              The Use of Social Networking Sites for Public Health Practice and Research: A Systematic Review

              Background Social networking sites (SNSs) have the potential to increase the reach and efficiency of essential public health services, such as surveillance, research, and communication. Objective The objective of this study was to conduct a systematic literature review to identify the use of SNSs for public health research and practice and to identify existing knowledge gaps. Methods We performed a systematic literature review of articles related to public health and SNSs using PubMed, EMBASE, and CINAHL to search for peer-reviewed publications describing the use of SNSs for public health research and practice. We also conducted manual searches of relevant publications. Each publication was independently reviewed by 2 researchers for inclusion and extracted relevant study data. Results A total of 73 articles met our inclusion criteria. Most articles (n=50) were published in the final 2 years covered by our search. In all, 58 articles were in the domain of public health research and 15 were in public health practice. Only 1 study was conducted in a low-income country. Most articles (63/73, 86%) described observational studies involving users or usages of SNSs; only 5 studies involved randomized controlled trials. A large proportion (43/73, 59%) of the identified studies included populations considered hard to reach, such as young individuals, adolescents, and individuals at risk of sexually transmitted diseases or alcohol and substance abuse. Few articles (2/73, 3%) described using the multidirectional communication potential of SNSs to engage study populations. Conclusions The number of publications about public health uses for SNSs has been steadily increasing in the past 5 years. With few exceptions, the literature largely consists of observational studies describing users and usages of SNSs regarding topics of public health interest. More studies that fully exploit the communication tools embedded in SNSs and study their potential to produce significant effects in the overall population’s health are needed.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications Inc. (Toronto, Canada )
                Apr-Jun 2015
                27 April 2015
                : 4
                : 2
                : e46
                [1] 1Center for Chronic Disease School of Medicine University of Queensland HerstonAustralia
                [2] 2University of Western Sydney SydneyAustralia
                [3] 3University of Sydney SydneyAustralia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Jie Hu j.hu1@ 123456uq.edu.au
                Author information
                ©Jie Hu, Kam Cheong Wong, Zhiqiang Wang. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (http://www.researchprotocols.org), 27.04.2015.

                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 JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 21 October 2014
                : 10 January 2015
                : 28 January 2015
                : 04 February 2015
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                chinese migrants,online survey,recruiting
                chinese migrants, online survey, recruiting


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