Use of a social networking web site for recruiting Canadian youth for medical research

J Adolesc Health. 2013 Jun;52(6):792-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.12.002. Epub 2013 Jan 23.


Purpose: The use of advertising on Facebook for medical research is not widely utilized, and we sought to describe the effectiveness of this tool in medical research recruitment.

Methods: A survey study was designed to evaluate the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Canadian youth who were affected by violence. Participants were recruited from an advertisement on Facebook that targeted Canadian users aged 15 to 24 years and linked them to an online survey. This secondary analysis is a descriptive study of the effectiveness of the Facebook campaign.

Results: Over the course of the study, the advertisement was displayed 17.5 million times resulting in 3,440 clicks on the link to the survey (.020%). The overall cost worked out to $15.35 per final subject, totaling $1351.17.

Conclusion: Facebook advertising is a cost-effective method of recruiting youth from a wide population. There are many potential uses for social networking in medical research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Advertising / economics
  • Canada
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys / economics
  • Humans
  • Internet / economics
  • Male
  • Patient Selection*
  • Social Networking*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Young Adult