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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 18 Recruiting Tools: scripts and incentives. These items are key to the recruiting process. In order to assure consistency in recruiting practices, screening criteria and recruitment protocol should be explicitly expressed in scripts to assure that proper recruiting procedures are followed for each potential participant. Prepared scripts and screeners assure that requirements for informed consent are met during the recruiting process. The Mass Media Project developed scripts in the first wave of recruiting which were then modified slightly to reflect the changes in research focus in the other two waves. Carefully prepared scripts are especially imperative if the researcher enlists assistance from an outside group or agency (Krueger, 1988:196), or if different recruiters need to be trained throughout the recruiting process as was the case for the Mass Media Project. For example, each new recruiter participated in a 1.5-hour training session with experienced Project personnel before working with subjects. A general rule of thumb is that the scripts should be conversational in tone and should use vocabulary that is understandable to the population being addressed. An example of the introduction of a recruiting script from the Mass Media Project illustrates this: Hi, This is ___, of the Mass Media and Behavior Project at the University of Kentucky. You called us because of a flier (or ad) that you saw. You told us you might be interested in participating. Well, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re putting together a small group of young people to talk about taking risks like bungee jumping, driving fast, drinking too much, taking drugs or having risky sex. All your responses will be completely confidential, and we will be using these to design media messages. We’re doing this because your opinion really counts and is valuable to us. The discussion should run around an hour and a half and will be held _(date, place)_. It should be a fun and lively discussion, and for participating you’ll get $25, free pizza and soda! Are you still interested? (IF YES: “To see if you qualify, I need to ask you a few questions. This should only take about 10 minutes or less.” IF NO: “Thank you for your time.”) A recruiting script should include the following five components, but should also be kept as brief as possible. 1. Identify the researchers. In the introduction it is important to let the person know who is conducting the research for two reasons. First, it is ethical to do so and complies with human subject requirements. Second, knowing the identity of the researcher is often important to respondents and may positively influence them (Farquhar 1999). Morrison (1998: 190-196) notes that using the name of the university is often helpful, especially for sensitive topics. 2. Explain the research. The introduction should have an explanation that includes a description of what the research is studying, why this topic is being studied, and how much time is involved in participating in the research. During the screening process the subject should know that s/he could withdraw from the screening process at any time without any negative consequences. 3. Incentives. An important feature of the introduction is to inform the subject of incentives for participation. Most focus group research offers respondents cash incentives for participating. It is generally regarded that paying incentives is effective because it lets the participant know that his opinion is valued (Morrison, 1998:193). On a more practical level, an incentive will encourage participation since the

Authors: Allard, Suzie., Palmgreen, Philip. and Zimmerman, Rick.
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Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns
page 18
Recruiting Tools: scripts and incentives. These items are key to the recruiting process. In order to assure
consistency in recruiting practices, screening criteria and recruitment protocol should be explicitly expressed
in scripts to assure that proper recruiting procedures are followed for each potential participant. Prepared
scripts and screeners assure that requirements for informed consent are met during the recruiting process.
The Mass Media Project developed scripts in the first wave of recruiting which were then modified slightly to
reflect the changes in research focus in the other two waves. Carefully prepared scripts are especially
imperative if the researcher enlists assistance from an outside group or agency (Krueger, 1988:196), or if
different recruiters need to be trained throughout the recruiting process as was the case for the Mass Media
Project. For example, each new recruiter participated in a 1.5-hour training session with experienced Project
personnel before working with subjects.
A general rule of thumb is that the scripts should be conversational in tone and should use vocabulary
that is understandable to the population being addressed. An example of the introduction of a recruiting script
from the Mass Media Project illustrates this:
Hi, This is ___, of the Mass Media and Behavior Project at the University of Kentucky.
You called us because of a flier (or ad) that you saw. You told us you might be interested
in participating. Well, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re putting together a small
group of young people to talk about taking risks like bungee jumping, driving fast, drinking
too much, taking drugs or having risky sex. All your responses will be completely
confidential, and we will be using these to design media messages. We’re doing this
because your opinion really counts and is valuable to us. The discussion should run
around an hour and a half and will be held _(date, place)_. It should be a fun and lively
discussion, and for participating you’ll get $25, free pizza and soda! Are you still
interested? (IF YES: “To see if you qualify, I need to ask you a few questions. This
should only take about 10 minutes or less.” IF NO: “Thank you for your time.”)
A recruiting script should include the following five components, but should also be kept as brief as
possible.
1. Identify the researchers. In the introduction it is important to let the person know who is
conducting the research for two reasons. First, it is ethical to do so and complies with human subject
requirements. Second, knowing the identity of the researcher is often important to respondents and may
positively influence them (Farquhar 1999). Morrison (1998: 190-196) notes that using the name of the
university is often helpful, especially for sensitive topics.
2. Explain the research. The introduction should have an explanation that includes a description of
what the research is studying, why this topic is being studied, and how much time is involved in participating
in the research. During the screening process the subject should know that s/he could withdraw from the
screening process at any time without any negative consequences.
3. Incentives. An important feature of the introduction is to inform the subject of incentives for
participation. Most focus group research offers respondents cash incentives for participating. It is generally
regarded that paying incentives is effective because it lets the participant know that his opinion is valued
(Morrison, 1998:193). On a more practical level, an incentive will encourage participation since the


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