Facebook as an effective recruitment strategy for mental health research of hard to reach populations

Rony Kayrouz*, Blake F. Dear, Eyal Karin, Nickolai Titov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)
145 Downloads (Pure)


Recent reports indicate that Facebook (FB) may facilitate recruitment of hard to reach participants into mental health research. The present study aimed to contribute to this emerging literature by exploring recruitment data from a recently completed trial of online treatment for symptoms of anxiety and depression that targeted Arab people. The present study compared traditional recruitment strategies such as media releases, emails, and print advertisements with Facebook strategies including boosting posts, promoting websites, events and FB public fan pages. The main outcomes of interest were the number of started applications and the time and cost per application associated with the FB and traditional recruitment strategies. A target sample of 350 was sought and a total of 81 participants applied to participate over the 42-week recruitment period. Overall, 86% of the resultant applications occurred via FB recruitment and a Poisson regression analysis indicated the FB strategies were more time-effective, recruiting participants 2.5 times faster than the traditional strategies. However, there were no differences in cost-effectiveness for FB ($US37 per participant) and traditional strategies ($US40 per participant). The findings of the current study add to existing literature detailing the value of FB recruitment strategies, alongside more traditional strategies, as a way of recruiting hard-to-reach populations for research. However, more research is needed to explore alternative and optimal strategies for the successful recruitment of hard to reach populations via FB and other online social media platforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternet Interventions
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Arabs
  • Facebook
  • Mental health
  • Online recruitment


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