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Facebook Advertisements Recruit Parents of Children With Cancer for an Online Survey of Web-Based Research Preferences

Akard, Terrah Foster PhD, RN, CPNP; Wray, Sarah MSN, CPNP; Gilmer, Mary Jo PhD, RN, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000146

Background: Studies involving samples of children with life-threatening illnesses and their families face significant challenges, including inadequate sample sizes and limited diversity. Social media recruitment and Web-based research methods may help address such challenges yet have not been explored in pediatric cancer populations.

Objective: This study examined the feasibility of using Facebook advertisements to recruit parent caregivers of children and teenagers with cancer. We also explored the feasibility of Web-based video recording in pediatric palliative care populations by surveying parents of children with cancer regarding (a) their preferences for research methods and (b) technological capabilities of their computers and phones.

Methods: Facebook’s paid advertising program was used to recruit parent caregivers of children currently living with cancer to complete an electronic survey about research preferences and technological capabilities.

Results: The advertising campaign generated 3 897 981 impressions, which resulted in 1050 clicks at a total cost of $1129.88. Of 284 screened individuals, 106 were eligible. Forty-five caregivers of children with cancer completed the entire electronic survey. Parents preferred and had technological capabilities for Web-based and electronic research methods. Participant survey responses are reported.

Conclusion: Facebook was a useful, cost-effective method to recruit a diverse sample of parent caregivers of children with cancer. Web-based video recording and data collection may be feasible and desirable in samples of children with cancer and their families.

Implications for Practice: Web-based methods (eg, Facebook, Skype) may enhance communication and access between nurses and pediatric oncology patients and their families.

Author Affiliation: School of Nursing, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.

This study was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar program awarded to Dr Terrah Foster Akard 2010–2013 (grant 68045) and by a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences/National Institutes of Health grant support (UL1 TR000445).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Terrah Foster Akard, PhD, RN, CPNP, School of Nursing, Vanderbilt University, 461 21st Ave South, 418 Gochaux Hall, Nashville, TN 37240 (

Accepted for publication February 15, 2014

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