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Little is known about designing research recruitment campaigns that connect with underserved, geographically isolated rural populations. A theoretically informed process is needed to assist research teams and practitioners in their evaluation of Facebook’s feasibility as a recruitment tool and development of online materials for recruiting rural adults into healthcare delivery intervention development studies.
We drew from research and theory in communication and incorporated process analysis techniques to develop replicable procedures for designing and evaluating Facebook campaigns for rural recruitment. We describe our process and illustrate using two case studies.
Campaigns received approximately 1000 link clicks from the target rural demographic and successfully enrolled participants using Facebook as a primary method of recruitment. The rural tobacco intervention development study received a total of 477 link clicks, cost only $155.80, and enrolled three (23%) of its 13 participants from Facebook. The rural mental health intervention development study received a total of 518 link clicks, cost only $233.28, and enrolled 178 participants.
Our process yielded two successful recruitment campaigns. Facebook was an affordable and efficacious strategy for enrolling adults in behavioral research studies on tobacco and mental health. Future work should apply these theoretical techniques to additional study topics and evaluate specific message features associated with recruitment.