Background: Federally funded surveys of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine uptake are important for pinpointing geographically based health disparities. Although national and state level data are available, local (ie, county and postal code level) data are not due to small sample sizes, confidentiality concerns, and cost. Local level HPV vaccine uptake data may be feasible to obtain by targeting specific geographic areas through social media advertising and recruitment strategies, in combination with online surveys.
Objective: Our goal was to use Facebook-based recruitment and online surveys to estimate local variation in HPV vaccine uptake among young men and women in Minnesota.
Methods: From November 2012 to January 2013, men and women were recruited via a targeted Facebook advertisement campaign to complete an online survey about HPV vaccination practices. The Facebook advertisements were targeted to recruit men and women by location (25 mile radius of Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States), age (18-30 years), and language (English).
Results: Of the 2079 men and women who responded to the Facebook advertisements and visited the study website, 1003 (48.2%) enrolled in the study and completed the survey. The average advertising cost per completed survey was US $1.36. Among those who reported their postal code, 90.6% (881/972) of the participants lived within the previously defined geographic study area. Receipt of 1 dose or more of HPV vaccine was reported by 65.6% women (351/535), and 13.0% (45/347) of men. These results differ from previously reported Minnesota state level estimates (53.8% for young women and 20.8% for young men) and from national estimates (34.5% for women and 2.3% for men).
Conclusions: This study shows that recruiting a representative sample of young men and women based on county and postal code location to complete a survey on HPV vaccination uptake via the Internet is a cost-effective and feasible strategy. This study also highlights the need for local estimates to assess the variation in HPV vaccine uptake, as these estimates differ considerably from those obtained using survey data that are aggregated to the state or federal level.
Keywords: Facebook; HPV; geographic variability; human papillomavirus; local estimation; online recruitment; social media.