Recruiting for health, medical or psychosocial research using Facebook: Systematic review

Louise Thornton, Philip J. Batterham, Daniel B. Fassnacht, Frances Kay-Lambkin, Alison L. Calear, Sally Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

234 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Recruiting participants is a challenge for many health, medical and psychosocial research projects. One tool more frequently being used to improve recruitment is the social networking website Facebook. A systematic review was conducted to identify studies that have used Facebook to recruit participants of all ages, to any psychosocial, health or medical research. 110 unique studies that used Facebook as a recruitment source were included in the review. The majority of studies used a cross-sectional design (80%) and addressed a physical health or disease issue (57%). Half (49%) of the included studies reported specific details of the Facebook recruitment process. Researchers paid between $1.36 and $110 per completing participants (Mean = $17.48, SD = $23.06). Among studies that examined the representativeness of their sample, the majority concluded (86%) their Facebook-recruited samples were similarly representative of samples recruited via traditional methods. These results indicate that Facebook is an effective and cost-efficient recruitment method. Researchers should consider their target group, advertisement wording, offering incentives and no-cost methods of recruitment when considering Facebook as a recruitment source. It is hoped this review will assist researchers to make decisions regarding the use of Facebook as a recruitment tool in future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-81
Number of pages10
JournalInternet Interventions
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license(–nc–nd/4.0/)


  • Facebook
  • Online recruitment
  • Recruitment
  • Systematic review


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