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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 14 classrooms worked together to formalize wording and coordinate procedures that would be used in disseminating and collecting the screeners. The students in each classroom received incentives for participating in the screening process, including candy bars, and in some cases, extra credit points from the instructor. The classroom intercept strategy was used for all three waves because it proved to be an efficient use of time in terms of creating viable leads for student focus group participants. In Wave One, which occurred over a summer, eight classes were visited and 122 screeners were completed. The success level was sufficient so that 33 classes were visited in the fall for Wave Two and 14 classes the following summer for Wave Three. Intercept strategies were also used with varying degrees of success to recruit two special populations in the study – African Americans and homosexuals. In Wave One, the intercept approach was used to reach African American community members. Recruiters from the Project went to a local park during a regularly scheduled event that is attended by African Americans. Recruiters did not administer a complete screener, but handed out flyers about the research and the incentive offered to respondents. Individuals were asked to give a name and phone number if they were interested in finding out more about participating. They also could call the Project directly using the number on the flyer. This intercept strategy produced a short list of names, and some calls to the Project. However, when the Project reviewed the recruiting results compared to the amount of time that was expended, this intercept activity was not considered productive. The effectiveness of this activity might have been improved if the on-site recruiters were people from within the community rather than researchers. The park intercept was not utilized in Waves Two or Three. In Waves One and Two, homosexual men were approached using an intercept strategy at nightclubs that serve the community. As noted above, a gatekeeper was engaged to act as a liaison with nightclub owners and to recommend individuals from within the community who could be paid to disseminate and collect screeners. For each wave, the nightclub intercept was conducted on two consecutive nights. Patrons were asked to self-administer a short screener that did not reveal the criteria that would make individuals eligible for participating in the study. Project personnel determined the eligibility of each individual when the screeners were reviewed and coded. Those who were eligible were called, and their screener answers confirmed. They were then invited to attend an appropriate focus group session. Nightclub participants were offered an incentive of theater tickets for completing a screener. While the nightclub intercept had several fixed expenses associated with it – recruiter pay, incentives, posters to gain attention -- the recruiting results demonstrate that this was a successful strategy in identifying eligible men and in providing the means to contact them. Print Advertisements. Print advertising is a recruiting strategy in which researchers place an advertisement in local publications that informs people about the study and invites people to call the recruiters to find out more information. Recruiters then administer the screener over the phone and determine eligibility.

Authors: Allard, Suzie., Palmgreen, Philip. and Zimmerman, Rick.
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Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns
page 14
classrooms worked together to formalize wording and coordinate procedures that would be used in
disseminating and collecting the screeners. The students in each classroom received incentives for
participating in the screening process, including candy bars, and in some cases, extra credit points from the
instructor.
The classroom intercept strategy was used for all three waves because it proved to be an efficient
use of time in terms of creating viable leads for student focus group participants. In Wave One, which
occurred over a summer, eight classes were visited and 122 screeners were completed. The success level
was sufficient so that 33 classes were visited in the fall for Wave Two and 14 classes the following summer
for Wave Three.
Intercept strategies were also used with varying degrees of success to recruit two special populations
in the study – African Americans and homosexuals.
In Wave One, the intercept approach was used to reach African American community members.
Recruiters from the Project went to a local park during a regularly scheduled event that is attended by African
Americans. Recruiters did not administer a complete screener, but handed out flyers about the research and
the incentive offered to respondents. Individuals were asked to give a name and phone number if they were
interested in finding out more about participating. They also could call the Project directly using the number
on the flyer. This intercept strategy produced a short list of names, and some calls to the Project. However,
when the Project reviewed the recruiting results compared to the amount of time that was expended, this
intercept activity was not considered productive. The effectiveness of this activity might have been improved
if the on-site recruiters were people from within the community rather than researchers. The park intercept
was not utilized in Waves Two or Three.
In Waves One and Two, homosexual men were approached using an intercept strategy at nightclubs
that serve the community. As noted above, a gatekeeper was engaged to act as a liaison with nightclub
owners and to recommend individuals from within the community who could be paid to disseminate and
collect screeners. For each wave, the nightclub intercept was conducted on two consecutive nights. Patrons
were asked to self-administer a short screener that did not reveal the criteria that would make individuals
eligible for participating in the study. Project personnel determined the eligibility of each individual when the
screeners were reviewed and coded. Those who were eligible were called, and their screener answers
confirmed. They were then invited to attend an appropriate focus group session. Nightclub participants were
offered an incentive of theater tickets for completing a screener.
While the nightclub intercept had several fixed expenses associated with it – recruiter pay, incentives,
posters to gain attention -- the recruiting results demonstrate that this was a successful strategy in identifying
eligible men and in providing the means to contact them.
Print Advertisements. Print advertising is a recruiting strategy in which researchers place an
advertisement in local publications that informs people about the study and invites people to call the recruiters
to find out more information. Recruiters then administer the screener over the phone and determine eligibility.


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