Facebook: an effective tool for participant retention in longitudinal research.
ABSTRACT Facebook is currently one of the world's most visited websites, and home to millions of users who access their accounts on a regular basis. Owing to the website's ease of accessibility and free service, demographic characteristics of users span all domains. As such, Facebook may be a valuable tool for locating and communicating with participants in longitudinal research studies. This article outlines the benefit gained in a longitudinal follow-up study, of an intervention programme for at-risk families, through the use of Facebook as a search engine.
Using Facebook as a resource, we were able to locate 19 participants that were otherwise 'lost' to follow-up, decreasing attrition in our study by 16%. Additionally, analysis indicated that hard-to-reach participants located with Facebook differed significantly on measures of receptive language and self-esteem when compared to their easier-to-locate counterparts.
These results suggest that Facebook is an effective means of improving participant retention in a longitudinal intervention study and may help improve study validity by reaching participants that contribute differing results.
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ABSTRACT: Women with inadequate prenatal care were recruited to a multi-component parenting intervention study. Because it was anticipated that this high-risk population might present challenges to retention, a variety of strategies were employed to maintain their participation in the study. This report reviews the results of these retention efforts and compares the population that completed the study versus those that terminated prior to study completion. Two hundred and eighty-six women were randomized to an intervention or control group. Careful tracking of the mothers, offering incentives for completing various study activities and providing a culturally competent staff were among the strategies employed to maintain participation. Comparison was made of those mothers terminating before study completion versus those retained, and of those terminating early in the study period versus later. Despite retention efforts, attrition at a level of 41% occurred. A few characteristics of mothers terminating early from the study were significant including older maternal age, a larger number of children, and incidence of no prenatal care. Despite comprehensive tracking procedures, some mothers were lost to follow up after change of residence. Other reasons for attrition included child outplacement and refusal of services or data collection procedures.Journal of Community Health 07/2001; 26(3):203-18. · 1.28 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The methods used to maximize retention in a longitudinal study of adolescent drinking are discussed. Data were collected at three time points: at recruitment to the study, after nine months and at 18 months. Strategies to minimize attrition included the collection of detailed contact information, incentives for participation, postcard and telephone reminders and telephone interviews. Ninety-six percent of the original sample completed the first follow-up questionnaire, 92% completed the second and the study lost contact with just 3% of participants. The success of the current project is notable as this type of population is notoriously difficult to retain in longitudinal studies.Journal of Adolescence 07/2003; 26(3):363-73. · 2.05 Impact Factor