Assessing Physician and Patient Perceptions of Generic Drugs via Facebook: A Feasibility Study

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Background: Social media offer a novel avenue to engage with and recruit research participants. Facebook in particular is a promising option given its popularity and widespread use. Objective: To explore the feasibility of using Facebook to recruit physicians and patients to participate in a survey to assess their perceptions about generic venlafaxine extended release (ER) tablet indicated for depression. Methods: Web-based surveys were developed to gauge physicians’ prescribing experiences with and patients’ perceptions of generic venlafaxine ER tablet. The surveys included questions specific to venlafaxine ER tablets, such as perceived safety and efficacy of the drug and overall comfort level with either prescribing or taking the drug. Survey links were then posted and advertised on Facebook to recruit physicians and patients. Results: Advertisement for physicians reached 1898 Facebook users and advertisement for patients reached 1144 users during a 10-day advertising period. However, only 14 and 35 users clicked on the survey for physicians and patients, respectively. No physician completed the physician survey while 3 patients completed the patient survey. Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that Facebook may not be an effective method to recruit physicians. Facebook holds promise to recruit patients, but additional recruitment efforts, such as incentives, are needed.

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