AbstractIntroduction 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. [Thornton LK, Harris K, Baker AL, Johnson M, Kay-Lambkin FJ. Recruiting for addiction research via Facebook. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:494–502]