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Focus Group Recruiting in Health Communication Campaigns: Lessons from a Project on Risky Sexual Behavior
Unformatted Document Text:  Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns page 13 Overall, cold calling for both students and community members took its toll on recruiters, since the low rate of success was demoralizing. Therefore, when cold calling results for Wave One were reviewed, the Project adjusted how this strategy was used in Wave Two. In Wave Two, cold calling was not used for student recruitment and was only employed for community member recruiting. When the results of Wave One and Two cold call recruiting were reviewed, it was decided that cold calling was not a strategy to be used in recruiting for Wave Three. The supplied lead refers to a process in which recruiters use telephone numbers that have been solicited through other means. The phone numbers may be gathered in a variety of ways including responses to newspaper ads or flyers, referrals from study participants, or through intercept activities. While each of these strategies is discussed later in the paper, an example from Wave One demonstrates the variety of ways phone numbers may be collected. Of the 120 Wave One recruiting calls that were made based on supplied leads, 52.5% were to people who had responded to a print ad or flyer; 42.5% were made to people who had been referred by others and 3% were calls made to people who had been contacted using the park intercept strategy (described later in the paper). Of the 120 calls made, 30% resulted in finding eligible respondents who were scheduled for focus group participation. As might be expected, the supplied lead was a more successful recruiting strategy than the cold call in terms of the amount of time that it took to find eligible participants. Additionally, because the success rate was more encouraging, recruiters were less discouraged than during cold calling. However, while the supplied lead was a more productive approach than cold calling in terms of actually time spent using the telephone, there were labor and material costs associated with soliciting the phone numbers. For example, the Project had to consider the costs of creating and posting flyers, placing advertisements, and conducting screener surveys in classrooms. Intercept. This recruiting strategy consists of going to locations where the target population is likely to be and then having people fill out a short screener. The screener includes an informed consent clause as well as a place for the person to indicate willingness to join a focus group should they qualify. This includes soliciting a phone number for recruiters. The intercept approach was used by the Mass Media Project in several different contexts. The primary intercept mechanism involved communication undergraduate classes. The Project identified classes that would allow researchers to administer a short survey that served as a screener for the study. The screeners were designed so students could not ascertain what criteria would make them eligible for the study. Project personnel determined the eligibility of each student when the screeners were reviewed and coded. Recruiting calls were then made to those students who were eligible and who had expressed an interest in participating in a focus group discussion. The student’s screener answers were confirmed and the student was invited to an appropriate focus group session. The classroom screening process was administered by project personnel in order to assure that it was conducted according to the research plan specifications. The Project personnel who went into the

Authors: Allard, Suzie., Palmgreen, Philip. and Zimmerman, Rick.
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Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns
page 13
Overall, cold calling for both students and community members took its toll on recruiters, since the
low rate of success was demoralizing. Therefore, when cold calling results for Wave One were reviewed, the
Project adjusted how this strategy was used in Wave Two. In Wave Two, cold calling was not used for
student recruitment and was only employed for community member recruiting. When the results of Wave
One and Two cold call recruiting were reviewed, it was decided that cold calling was not a strategy to be used
in recruiting for Wave Three.
The supplied lead refers to a process in which recruiters use telephone numbers that have been
solicited through other means. The phone numbers may be gathered in a variety of ways including responses
to newspaper ads or flyers, referrals from study participants, or through intercept activities. While each of
these strategies is discussed later in the paper, an example from Wave One demonstrates the variety of ways
phone numbers may be collected. Of the 120 Wave One recruiting calls that were made based on supplied
leads, 52.5% were to people who had responded to a print ad or flyer; 42.5% were made to people who had
been referred by others and 3% were calls made to people who had been contacted using the park intercept
strategy (described later in the paper). Of the 120 calls made, 30% resulted in finding eligible respondents
who were scheduled for focus group participation. As might be expected, the supplied lead was a more
successful recruiting strategy than the cold call in terms of the amount of time that it took to find eligible
participants. Additionally, because the success rate was more encouraging, recruiters were less discouraged
than during cold calling.
However, while the supplied lead was a more productive approach than cold calling in terms of
actually time spent using the telephone, there were labor and material costs associated with soliciting the
phone numbers. For example, the Project had to consider the costs of creating and posting flyers, placing
advertisements, and conducting screener surveys in classrooms.
Intercept. This recruiting strategy consists of going to locations where the target population is likely
to be and then having people fill out a short screener. The screener includes an informed consent clause as
well as a place for the person to indicate willingness to join a focus group should they qualify. This includes
soliciting a phone number for recruiters. The intercept approach was used by the Mass Media Project in
several different contexts.
The primary intercept mechanism involved communication undergraduate classes. The Project
identified classes that would allow researchers to administer a short survey that served as a screener for the
study. The screeners were designed so students could not ascertain what criteria would make them eligible
for the study. Project personnel determined the eligibility of each student when the screeners were reviewed
and coded. Recruiting calls were then made to those students who were eligible and who had expressed an
interest in participating in a focus group discussion. The student’s screener answers were confirmed and the
student was invited to an appropriate focus group session.
The classroom screening process was administered by project personnel in order to assure that it
was conducted according to the research plan specifications. The Project personnel who went into the


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