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Eval Health Prof. 2017 Jan 1:163278717742189. doi: 10.1177/0163278717742189. [Epub ahead of print]

Using Panel Vendors for Recruitment Into a Web-Based Family Prevention Program: Methodological Considerations.

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1 Prevention Research Center, Oakland, CA, USA.
2 Klein Buendel, Inc., Golden, CO, USA.


Use of online panel vendors in research has grown over the past decade. Panel vendors are organizations that recruit participants into a panel to take part in web-based surveys and match panelists to a target audience for data collection. We used two panel vendors to recruit families ( N = 411) with a 16- to 17-year-old teen to participate in a randomized control trial (RCT) of an online family-based program to prevent underage drinking and risky sexual behaviors. Our article addresses the following research questions: (1) How well do panel vendors provide a sample of families who meet our inclusion criteria to participate in a RCT? (2) How well do panel vendors provide a sample of families who reflect the characteristics of the general population? and (3) Does the choice of vendor influence the characteristics of families that we engage in research? Despite the screening techniques used by the panel vendors to identify families who met our inclusion criteria, 23.8% were found ineligible when research staff verified their eligibility by direct telephone contact. Compared to the general U.S. population, our sample had more Whites and more families with higher education levels. Finally, across the two panel vendors, there were no significant differences in the characteristics of families, except for mean age. The online environment provides opportunities for new methods to recruit participants in research studies. However, innovative recruitment methods need careful study to ensure the quality of their samples.


Internet panel; eHealth intervention; nonprobability panels; online panel vendors; panelists; recruitment; recruitment method; sample characteristics; sampling bias; web-based family prevention program

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