Using Facebook and participant information clips to recruit emergency nurses for research

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To examine the use of social networking sites in recruiting research participants.


Workplace violence is an important issue for staff and patients. One workplace that reports the highest levels of violence is the emergency department. The ability to research issues such as workplace violence in real time is important in addressing them expeditiously, and social media can be used to advertise and recruit research subjects, implement studies and disseminate information.

Review methods

The experience of recruiting subjects through social networks, specifically Facebook, and the use of participant information clips (PICs) for advertising.


A brief discussion of the history of advertising and communication using the internet is presented to provide an understanding of the trajectory of social media and implications for recruitment in general. The paper then focuses on the lead author's experience of recruiting subjects using Facebook, including its limitations and advantages, and her experience of using participant information clips. The low cost of advertising and recruiting participants this way, as well as the convenience provided to participants, resulted in almost half the study's total participants being obtained within 72 hours.


Using Facebook to target a younger age range of nurses to participate in a study was successful and yielded a large number of completed responses in a short time period at little cost to the researcher. Recording the PIC was cheap, and posting it and a link to the site on pre-existing group pages was free, providing valuable viral marketing and snowball recruiting.

Implications for research/practice

Future researchers should not overlook using social network sites for recruitment if the demographics of the desired study population and subject matter permit it.

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