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Using facebook to recruit young adult veterans: online mental health research.

Pedersen ER, Helmuth ED, Marshall GN, Schell TL, PunKay M, Kurz J - JMIR Res Protoc (2015)

Bottom Line: We describe the successful Facebook recruitment process, including data collection from over 1000 veteran participants in approximately 3 weeks, procedures to verify participation eligibility, and comparison of our sample with nationally available norms.Only half had attended any appointment for a mental health concern at any clinic or hospital.This work expands on the work of other studies that have examined clinical samples of veterans only and suggests Facebook can be an adequate method of obtaining samples of veterans in need of care.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: RAND, Department of Behavioral and Policy Sciences, Santa Monica, CA, United States. ericp@rand.org.

ABSTRACT

Background: Veteran research has primarily been conducted with clinical samples and those already involved in health care systems, but much is to be learned about veterans in the community. Facebook is a novel yet largely unexplored avenue for recruiting veteran participants for epidemiological and clinical studies.

Objective: In this study, we utilized Facebook to recruit a sample of young adult veterans for the first phase of an online alcohol intervention study. We describe the successful Facebook recruitment process, including data collection from over 1000 veteran participants in approximately 3 weeks, procedures to verify participation eligibility, and comparison of our sample with nationally available norms.

Methods: Participants were young adult veterans aged 18-34 recruited through Facebook as part of a large study to document normative drinking behavior among a large community sample of veterans. Facebook ads were targeted toward young veterans to collect information on demographics and military characteristics, health behaviors, mental health, and health care utilization.

Results: We obtained a sample of 1023 verified veteran participants over a period of 24 days for the advertising price of approximately US $7.05 per verified veteran participant. Our recruitment strategy yielded a sample similar to the US population of young adult veterans in most demographic areas except for race/ethnicity and previous branch of service, which when we weighted the sample on race/ethnicity and branch a sample better matched with the population data was obtained. The Facebook sample recruited veterans who were engaged in a variety of risky health behaviors such as binge drinking and marijuana use. One fourth of veterans had never since discharge been to an appointment for physical health care and about half had attended an appointment for service compensation review. Only half had attended any appointment for a mental health concern at any clinic or hospital. Despite more than half screening positive for current probable mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, only about 1 in 3 received mental health care in the past year and only 1 in 50 received such care within the past month.

Conclusions: This work expands on the work of other studies that have examined clinical samples of veterans only and suggests Facebook can be an adequate method of obtaining samples of veterans in need of care.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02187887; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02187887 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6YiUKRsXY).

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Flow diagram of sample participants.
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figure2: Flow diagram of sample participants.

Mentions: Once individuals accessed the survey by clicking through to the Web page, they saw an informational statement describing eligibility, confidentiality, and other aspects of informed consent. If interested, they indicated agreement to participate in the study. They began the survey with screening questions of age, veteran status (eg, veteran, active duty, reserves/guard), and branch of service. To be eligible, veterans needed to be between 18 and 34 of age and fully separated from the military; thus, not currently in the reserves or guard units. We specified veterans of OEF/OIF in the recruitment documentation, but did not exclude veterans who were not involved in those combat operations. Eligibility criteria were made clear on our Facebook page and in consent. Respondents who were ineligible based on their responses to the screener were exited from the survey without ability to reenter. Figure 2 contains a description of the individuals who were screened out due to ineligibility. Next, participants were presented with questions about pay grade at discharge (eg, E-4); rank at discharge (eg, captain); and occupation code: military occupational specialty for Army and Marine Corps, enlisted classification (for Air Force), or specialty code (for Navy). These items were all open-ended responses. We used these 3 items, branch of service, and age to ensure consistency and verify participants had military knowledge consistent with military service. When it was unclear (eg, if veteran endorsed pay grade at discharge for both pay grade and rank items), we examined the rest of the individual’s data to determine whether their data appeared consistent with military service. We excluded participants in cases where data were still unclear or where misrepresentation was likely (Figure 2).


Using facebook to recruit young adult veterans: online mental health research.

Pedersen ER, Helmuth ED, Marshall GN, Schell TL, PunKay M, Kurz J - JMIR Res Protoc (2015)

Flow diagram of sample participants.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4526897&req=5

figure2: Flow diagram of sample participants.
Mentions: Once individuals accessed the survey by clicking through to the Web page, they saw an informational statement describing eligibility, confidentiality, and other aspects of informed consent. If interested, they indicated agreement to participate in the study. They began the survey with screening questions of age, veteran status (eg, veteran, active duty, reserves/guard), and branch of service. To be eligible, veterans needed to be between 18 and 34 of age and fully separated from the military; thus, not currently in the reserves or guard units. We specified veterans of OEF/OIF in the recruitment documentation, but did not exclude veterans who were not involved in those combat operations. Eligibility criteria were made clear on our Facebook page and in consent. Respondents who were ineligible based on their responses to the screener were exited from the survey without ability to reenter. Figure 2 contains a description of the individuals who were screened out due to ineligibility. Next, participants were presented with questions about pay grade at discharge (eg, E-4); rank at discharge (eg, captain); and occupation code: military occupational specialty for Army and Marine Corps, enlisted classification (for Air Force), or specialty code (for Navy). These items were all open-ended responses. We used these 3 items, branch of service, and age to ensure consistency and verify participants had military knowledge consistent with military service. When it was unclear (eg, if veteran endorsed pay grade at discharge for both pay grade and rank items), we examined the rest of the individual’s data to determine whether their data appeared consistent with military service. We excluded participants in cases where data were still unclear or where misrepresentation was likely (Figure 2).

Bottom Line: We describe the successful Facebook recruitment process, including data collection from over 1000 veteran participants in approximately 3 weeks, procedures to verify participation eligibility, and comparison of our sample with nationally available norms.Only half had attended any appointment for a mental health concern at any clinic or hospital.This work expands on the work of other studies that have examined clinical samples of veterans only and suggests Facebook can be an adequate method of obtaining samples of veterans in need of care.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: RAND, Department of Behavioral and Policy Sciences, Santa Monica, CA, United States. ericp@rand.org.

ABSTRACT

Background: Veteran research has primarily been conducted with clinical samples and those already involved in health care systems, but much is to be learned about veterans in the community. Facebook is a novel yet largely unexplored avenue for recruiting veteran participants for epidemiological and clinical studies.

Objective: In this study, we utilized Facebook to recruit a sample of young adult veterans for the first phase of an online alcohol intervention study. We describe the successful Facebook recruitment process, including data collection from over 1000 veteran participants in approximately 3 weeks, procedures to verify participation eligibility, and comparison of our sample with nationally available norms.

Methods: Participants were young adult veterans aged 18-34 recruited through Facebook as part of a large study to document normative drinking behavior among a large community sample of veterans. Facebook ads were targeted toward young veterans to collect information on demographics and military characteristics, health behaviors, mental health, and health care utilization.

Results: We obtained a sample of 1023 verified veteran participants over a period of 24 days for the advertising price of approximately US $7.05 per verified veteran participant. Our recruitment strategy yielded a sample similar to the US population of young adult veterans in most demographic areas except for race/ethnicity and previous branch of service, which when we weighted the sample on race/ethnicity and branch a sample better matched with the population data was obtained. The Facebook sample recruited veterans who were engaged in a variety of risky health behaviors such as binge drinking and marijuana use. One fourth of veterans had never since discharge been to an appointment for physical health care and about half had attended an appointment for service compensation review. Only half had attended any appointment for a mental health concern at any clinic or hospital. Despite more than half screening positive for current probable mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, only about 1 in 3 received mental health care in the past year and only 1 in 50 received such care within the past month.

Conclusions: This work expands on the work of other studies that have examined clinical samples of veterans only and suggests Facebook can be an adequate method of obtaining samples of veterans in need of care.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02187887; http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02187887 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6YiUKRsXY).

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus