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Child Care Health Dev. 2012 Sep;38(5):753-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01326.x. Epub 2011 Oct 11.

Facebook: an effective tool for participant retention in longitudinal research.

Author information

1
Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, AB, Canada. rmmychas@ucalgary.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSIONS:

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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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