Recruiting for addiction research via Facebook

Thornton, Louise, Harris, Keith, Baker, Amanda L., Johnson, Martin and Kay-Lambkin, Frances (2015) Recruiting for addiction research via Facebook. Drug and Alcohol Review, 35 4: 494-502. doi:10.1111/dar.12305

Author Thornton, Louise
Harris, Keith
Baker, Amanda L.
Johnson, Martin
Kay-Lambkin, Frances
Title Recruiting for addiction research via Facebook
Journal name Drug and Alcohol Review   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1465-3362
Publication date 2015-07-14
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/dar.12305
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 35
Issue 4
Start page 494
End page 502
Total pages 9
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Formatted abstract
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 (χ2 = 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%, χ2 = 39.71, P < 0.001; men: Facebook = 62%, non-Facebook = 21%, χ2 = 32.429, P < 0.001) and cannabis (women: Facebook = 26%, non-Facebook = 7%, χ2 = 14.364, P < 0.001; men: Facebook = 46%, non-Facebook = 24%, χ2 = 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%, χ2 = 18.12, P < 0.001; men: Facebook = 43%, non-Facebook = 16%, χ2 = 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.
Keyword Social networking site
Social media
Research subject recruitment
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 5 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 4 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 18 Jan 2016, 23:44:29 EST by Keith Harris on behalf of School of Psychology