Facebook: an effective tool for participant retention in longitudinal research
Article first published online: 10 OCT 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Child: Care, Health and Development
Volume 38, Issue 5, pages 753–756, September 2012
How to Cite
Mychasiuk, R. and Benzies, K. (2012), Facebook: an effective tool for participant retention in longitudinal research. Child: Care, Health and Development, 38: 753–756. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01326.x
- Issue published online: 2 AUG 2012
- Article first published online: 10 OCT 2011
- Accepted for publication 29 August 2011
- early intervention;
- longitudinal research;
- social network
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.