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PLoS One. 2018 Jul 6;13(7):e0200184. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200184. eCollection 2018.

A multi-modal recruitment strategy using social media and internet-mediated methods to recruit a multidisciplinary, international sample of clinicians to an online research study.

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Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.
School of Health and Rehabilitation, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, United Kingdom.



Challenges exist in recruiting an international sample of clinicians and researchers to an online survey. Traditional recruitment methods remain relevant but issues such as narrow geographical reach, high cost and time intensity limit what can be achieved when aiming to recruit an international, multi-disciplinary sample. Internet-mediated and social media approaches to recruitment and engagement offer new, untested ways of capitalizing upon existing professional networks.


To develop, use and appraise a multi-modal recruitment strategy for an online, international survey regarding the management of shoulder pain.


Traditional recruitment methods were combined with internet-mediated recruitment methods to form a multi-modal recruitment strategy. An overview of the development of this three-month recruitment strategy is provided and the value and role of each strand of the recruitment strategy discussed.


In response to the multi-modal recruitment strategy, data was received from 565 clinicians and researchers from 31 countries (64% UK). Complete data was received from 387 respondents with no demographic differences between respondents who completed, and those who started but did not complete the survey. Over 30% of responses were received within 1 week, 50% within 4 weeks and 81% within 8 weeks.


This study shows the acceptability and international, multidisciplinary reach of a low cost multi-modal recruitment strategy for an online survey of international clinicians and researchers. Incorporating the use of social media proved to be an effective, time and resource-efficient recruitment strategy for this online survey and appeared to enhance clinician engagement. A multimodal recruitment strategy is worthy of consideration for future online surveys of clinicians and researchers.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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