On 17 November 2020, more than 70 colleagues discussed 'Online recruitment of study participants’ in a webinar organized by RIHS. This webinar was the first chapter of the RIHS digital health research series. In this session, Marleen van Gelder (PRIDE study), Maaike Gerritse (DECISION study) and Janet den Hollander (Healthy brain study) shared their experiences with online recruitment of study participants. Jolt Roukema shared the view of the Medical-Ethical Review Board Arnhem-Nijmegen on online recruitment. The webinar was hosted by Tom van de Belt. If you missed it: the session is available online.
Disappointing participation rates were one of the main reasons to switch to the recruitment of study participants via social media. All speakers favoured this enrichment of their recruitment strategy, since it was (very) successful in improving the inclusion rates for their studies. For example, the Facebook ads in the PRIDE study resulted in new participants on a daily basis, which is more than via offline recruitment strategies. Facebook ads in the DECISION study also delivered new study participants, although the inclusion rate remained comparable to normal inclusion strategies.
One of the greatest benefits of online recruitment is the ability to reach out to your specific target population, starting by choosing the right media platform. All speakers in this Webinar used Facebook, as their target population was most active on this media platform. Interestingly, the characteristics of the participants they recruited via social media differed from ‘classically-recruited’ participants. Demographics such as age, body mass index, and educational level were different. By this, recruitment via social media has the potential to improve the external validity of your study!
As with everything, online recruitment via social media has some potential disadvantages. For example, online advertisements can be costly. In the presented studies, the costs differed from €10 to €112 per included participant. The costs can be reduced by more attractive advertisements (“content is king”), targeting the ads to a specific population, use study participants as promotors, simplifying your recruitment methods, and be clear about what is in it for them (incentives). Another potential disadvantage is that participants recruited via social media may have a lower commitment to your study, which could lead to higher loss to follow-up.
The Medical-Ethical Review Board (Dutch: CMO) Arnhem-Nijmegen is enthusiastic about all new methods aimed at increasing participation rates, including online recruitment of study participants. Be aware that for WMO research, you will always need CMO approval for all online content. Besides, keep in mind that your advertisements cannot be too promotional and they do not replace the subject information sheet (Dutch: PIF). For non-WMO research, the most important requirement is that you apply to the General Data Protection Regulation (Dutch: AVG). The privacy officer of the hospital can help you if you have any questions about this.
RIHS PhD Council
Related news items
Radboud Young Academy safeguards the future of science21 January 2021
New platform to provide advice on policy, create an interdisciplinary network of early career scientists, and promote career development.read more
Increase radio- and immunotherapy efficacy by targeting hypoxia21 January 2021
In a paper recently accepted by Clinical Cancer Research, Daan Boreel, together with Paul Span, Sandra Heskamp, Gosse Adema and Jan Bussink, reviews the therapeutic potential of decreasing the lack of oxygen (hypoxia) often found in solid tumors.read more
Radiation boost lowers risk of prostate cancer recurrence21 January 2021
An additional external-beam radiation dose delivered directly to the tumor can benefit the prospects of men with non-metastatic prostate cancer, without causing additional side effects. The risk of relapse within five years for these men is smaller than for men who did not receive this boost.read more
New research through grants for Radboudumc researchers14 January 2021
Several researchers at the Radboudumc have received grants to start new studies, including on rare diseases, liver disease and cancer metastases. These are grants from the Dutch Research Council, European Joint Programme on Rare Diseases and the Gastric Liver Disease Foundation.read more
Should we prepare for a corona-related depression wave? Indira Tendolkar and Eric Ruhé talk about their research projects13 January 2021
Since the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2, many of us have been staying at home in order to limit our social interactions, to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus. Yet, there’s also concern about what social distancing and anxiety generated by media reports are doing to people's mental health.read more
RIMLS online award ceremony proudly presenting the winners13 January 2021
In this special webinar of the RIMLS New Year Celebration, scientific director René Bindels reviewed 2020 and looked forward to 2021. But more importantly a number of researchers received prizes in the traditional RIMLS awards ceremony.read more