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Recruiting Military Veterans into Alcohol Misuse Research: The Role of Social Media and Facebook Advertising

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Charlotte Williamson, Roberto Rona, Amos Simms, Nicola Fear, Laura Goodwin, Dominic Murphy, Daniel Leightley

Original languageEnglish
Early online date11 May 2022
Accepted/In press9 Mar 2022
E-pub ahead of print11 May 2022

King's Authors


Background: The use of digital technology within health care service delivery, monitoring, and research is becoming progressively popular, particularly given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Mobile health (m-health) apps, one form of digital technology, are increasingly being used to promote positive health related behavior change. Therefore, it is important to conduct research to understand the efficacy of m-health apps. The process of participant recruitment is an essential component in producing strong research evidence, along with ensuring an adequately powered sample to conduct meaningful analyses and draw robust conclusions.

Methods: In this work we outline and reflect on the strategies used to recruit help-seeking military veterans into an intervention study, which aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an app (Drinks:Ration) to modify behavior in alcohol misusers. Recruitment strategies included through (1) partner organizations and (2) social media and Facebook advertising (ads).

Results: Facebook ads were live for a period of 88 days and were viewed by a total audience of 29,416 people. In total 168 military veterans were recruited across all recruitment strategies, meaning that Drinks:Ration exceeded its recruitment targets. Half of the sample (n = 84) were recruited through social media, including Facebook ads.

Conclusions: The current article highlighted that targeted Facebook ads were an efficient strategy to recruit military veterans into a digital intervention trial aiming to reduce alcohol consumption because they reduced the amount of time and resources required to contact a large number of potentially eligible individuals for our study. This article acts as a starting point for other researchers to evaluate their recruitment pathways for recruiting military veterans into alcohol misuse research.

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