Details of Publication 862 for Project A494A:

Tavener M, Mooney R, Thomson C & Loxton D. The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health: Using focus groups to inform recruitment. JMIR Research Protocols, 2016; 5(1): e31

Background: Recruitment and retention of participants to large-scale, longitudinal studies can be a challenge, particularly when trying to target young women. Qualitative inquiries with members of the target population can prove valuable in assisting with the development of effective recruiting techniques. Researchers in the current study made use of focus group methodology to identify how to encourage young women aged 18-23 to participate in a national cohort online survey.Objective: Our objectives were to gain insight into how to encourage young women to participate in a large-scale, longitudinal health survey, as well as to evaluate the survey instrument and mode of administration.Methods: The Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health used focus group methodology to learn how to encourage young women to participate in a large-scale, longitudinal Web-based health survey and to evaluate the survey instrument and mode of administration. Nineteen groups, involving 75 women aged 18-23 years, were held in remote, regional, and urban areas of New South Wales and Queensland.Results: Focus groups were held in 2 stages, with discussions lasting from 19 minutes to over 1 hour. The focus groups allowed concord to be reached regarding survey promotion using social media, why personal information was needed, strategies to ensure confidentiality, how best to ask sensitive questions, and survey design for ease of completion. Recruitment into the focus groups proved difficult: the groups varied in size between 1 and 8 participants, with the majority conducted with 2 participants.Conclusions: Intense recruitment efforts and variation in final focus group numbers highlights the “hard to reach” character of young women. However, the benefits of conducting focus group discussions as a preparatory stage to the recruitment of a large cohort for a longitudinal Web-based health survey were upheld.

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