Using social networking sites to recruit participants: methods of an online survey of sexual health, knowledge and behaviour of young South Australians.
Stephen Harfield, Salenna Elliott, Liam Ramsey, Tambri Housen, James Ward (2021).
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.13117
Objective: To describe the methods of recruitment and demographic results of an online sexual health survey using social networking sites (SNS) to recruit people aged 16–29 years in the state of South Australia (SA) during 2019.
Methods: A crosssectional online survey titled ‘Let’s Talk About It’ using SNS (Facebook and Instagram) was administered between July and August 2019, targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous young people. The survey comprised questions on demographics information, sexual health knowledge, behaviours and healthcare access.
Results: During the data collection period, the study team closely monitored the demographics of participants and adjusted SNS messaging through paid advertising to increase the recruitment of under-represented population groups, especially Aboriginal people, males and regional and remote residents of SA. A total of 2,724 people accessed the survey predominately via Facebook during a six-week period between July and August 2019; 2,380 people were eligible and included in the analysis.
Conclusions and implications for public health: Even though SNS have been used previously in recruitment for sexual health issues, small adjustments to the study during recruitment were specifically made to include under-represented populations in the final study. Using SNS is an effective method for recruiting survey participants; during recruitment phases, additional strategies may be required to be inclusive of diverse and under-represented populations.