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Facebook advertising for participant recruitment into a blood pressure clinical trial


Nash, EL and Gilroy, D and Srikusalanukul, W and Abhayaratna, WP and Stanton, T and Mitchell, G and Stowasser, M and Sharman, JE, Facebook advertising for participant recruitment into a blood pressure clinical trial, Journal of Hypertension, 35, (12) pp. 2527-2531. ISSN 0263-6352 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health

DOI: doi:10.1097/HJH.0000000000001477


Objectives: Recruitment of sufficient sample size into clinical trials is challenging. Conventional advertising methods are expensive and are often ineffective. The effectiveness of Facebook for recruitment into blood pressure clinical trials of middle-to-older-aged people is unknown. This study aimed to assess this by comparing Facebook advertising with conventional recruitment methods from a retrospective analysis within a clinical trial.

Methods: Conventional advertisements (newspaper, radio and posters) were employed for the first 20 months of a randomized controlled clinical trial conducted in three Australian capital cities from Tasmania, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. With dwindling participant recruitment, at 20 months a Facebook advertising campaign was employed intermittently over a 4-month period. Recruitment results were retrospectively compared with those using conventional methods in the previous 4 months.

Results: Compared with conventional recruitment methods, Facebook advertisement was associated with a significant increase in the number of participants recruited in the Australian Capital Territory (from an average 1.8-7.3/month; P <  0.05). There was also an increase in Tasmania that was of borderline significance (from 4.0 participants recruited/month to 9.3/month; P =  0.052). However, there was no effect in Queensland (from 6.0 participants recruited/month to 3.0/month; P =  0.15). Facebook advertisement was associated with a significant decrease in the age of participants enquiring into the study (from 60.9 to 58.7 years; P  <  0.001).

Conclusion: Facebook advertising was successful in helping to increase recruitment of middle-to-older aged participants into a blood pressure clinical trial, although there may be some variability in effect that is dependent on location.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:direct-to-consumer advertising, direct-to-consumer marketing, research subject selection, social mediums, web 2.0
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Cardiovascular medicine and haematology
Research Field:Cardiology (incl. cardiovascular diseases)
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Nash, EL (Miss Erin Nash)
UTAS Author:Sharman, JE (Professor James Sharman)
ID Code:122967
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:16
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2017-12-07
Last Modified:2022-08-25

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