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Recruiting for addiction research via Facebook


Thornton, LK and Harris, KM and Baker, AL and Johnson, M and Kay-Lambkin, FJ, Recruiting for addiction research via Facebook, Drug and Alcohol Review, 35, (4) pp. 494-502. ISSN 0959-5236 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs

DOI: doi:10.1111/dar.12305


INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: This study aimed to examine the feasibility of recruiting participants to addiction research via Facebook.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Participants were recruited via an advertisement on Facebook, a local research register and university psychology courses. Participants completed a self-report survey regarding substance use, history of mental health issues and current psychological distress.

RESULTS: The 524 participants recruited via Facebook cost $1.86 per participant; and 418 participants were recruited via more traditional methods. There were significantly fewer women in the Facebook sample compared with the non-Facebook sample (χ(2)  = 196.61, P < 0.001), but no differences on age. Significantly more Facebook participants reported current use of tobacco (women: Facebook = 57%, non-Facebook = 21%, χ(2)  = 39.71, P < 0.001; men: Facebook = 62%, non-Facebook = 21%, χ(2)  = 32.429, P < 0.001) and cannabis (women: Facebook = 26%, non-Facebook = 7%, χ(2)  = 14.364, P < 0.001; men: Facebook = 46%, non-Facebook = 24%, χ(2)  = 6.765, P < 0.01). They also reported significantly more harmful use of tobacco [women: F degrees of freedom (d.f.) = 6.07, P < 0.05; men: F(d.f.) = 9.03, P < 0.01] and cannabis [women: F(d.f.) = 11.00, P < 0.01; men: F(d.f.) = 6.40, P < 0.05]. The Facebook sample contained a higher percentage of high-severity cannabis users (women: Facebook = 24%, non-Facebook = 4%, χ(2)  = 18.12, P < 0.001; men: Facebook = 43%, non-Facebook = 16%, χ(2)  = 10.00, P < 0.01) and reported significantly more severe depressive symptoms [women: F(d.f.) = 26.38, P < 0.001; men: F(d.f.) = 7.44, P < 0.05].

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: Through Facebook, we were able to capture a greater proportion of people with high-severity substance use and mental health issues and were able to capture a greater and more severe range of substance use behaviours. This suggests social networking sites are efficient, cost-effective ways to recruit large numbers of participants, with relevant behaviours and conditions, to addiction research.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:addiction research subject recruitment social media social networking site
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Mental health services
UTAS Author:Harris, KM (Dr Keith Harris)
ID Code:110308
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:32
Deposited By:Medicine
Deposited On:2016-07-24
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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