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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 21 accepted an invitation and therefore created a higher level of assurance that those people who were scheduled for a group were likely to come to the group. 3. Designing the sampling plan to allow comparative analysis across key characteristics provided valuable information. For example, the addition of two groups of Rational Decision Makers allowed us to better understand the reactions of Impulsive Decision Makers to certain message components. Additionally, when designing the Project PSAs it was often important to know how a particular message component had been received by High Sensation Seekers versus Impulsive Decision Makers. While budget constraints may impact how well the sampling plan can address comparative analysis, it is an important consideration when targeting the sample and building the group plan. 4. Taking the time to establish a fully developed recruiting mechanism pays off. Our experience suggests that preparation is an essential element of running an in-house recruiting system. Key aspects of the preparation were creating an overall plan of how we would approach recruiting and supporting this with a documentation system that allowed multiple individuals to coordinate their efforts. By systemitizing our activities we were able to continually assess what was working and what was not so we could adjust our efforts to maximize the results of our efforts. Preparation assured that all recruiters were working from the same scripts and that the eligibility requirements of our participants were treated equally across all three waves of focus groups throughout the course of the study. Each stage of PSA development depending on information gathered from the groups and it was essential that we were talking to the "same" audience during each wave. The preparation at the start of the study allowed us to proceed consistently throughout the 14 months. 5. Meetings, training, and scripts are important for recruiters. Recruiting is a complex process that requires concentrated effort to keep it consistent and to coordinate all the parties involved. The Mass Media Project had two graduate students who oversaw the recruiting process throughout the 14 months, and they met on a weekly basis with the project manager and investigators to report on recruiting activities and discuss issues including any strategy changes. Recruiting scripts, ads, and posters were also reviewed by all key project personnel to assure that research objectives were being met. During the course of the 14 months several other students assisted in recruiting activities, and these students were provided with the written material and introduced to the proper procedures with one-on-one training sessions that lasted an hour or hour and a half. 6. Building good leads is essential to successful telephone recruiting. As noted, our experience with random dialing from lists proved to be extremely costly and returned poor results. We found the time was better spent developing leads from other sources, then following these up with a recruiting call. 7. Finding ways to reach community members was challenging, but possible. Recruiting students had few barriers, but finding community members in this target population was much more difficult. Developing several different strategies and assessing the results of each showed that this group was best reached through print ads, referrals and posters at carefully selected sites.

Authors: Allard, Suzie., Palmgreen, Philip. and Zimmerman, Rick.
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Recruiting for Focus Groups in Health Communication Campaigns
page 21
accepted an invitation and therefore created a higher level of assurance that those people who were
scheduled for a group were likely to come to the group.
3. Designing the sampling plan to allow comparative analysis across key characteristics
provided valuable information. For example, the addition of two groups of Rational Decision Makers
allowed us to better understand the reactions of Impulsive Decision Makers to certain message components.
Additionally, when designing the Project PSAs it was often important to know how a particular message
component had been received by High Sensation Seekers versus Impulsive Decision Makers. While budget
constraints may impact how well the sampling plan can address comparative analysis, it is an important
consideration when targeting the sample and building the group plan.
4. Taking the time to establish a fully developed recruiting mechanism pays off. Our
experience suggests that preparation is an essential element of running an in-house recruiting system. Key
aspects of the preparation were creating an overall plan of how we would approach recruiting and supporting
this with a documentation system that allowed multiple individuals to coordinate their efforts. By systemitizing
our activities we were able to continually assess what was working and what was not so we could adjust our
efforts to maximize the results of our efforts. Preparation assured that all recruiters were working from the
same scripts and that the eligibility requirements of our participants were treated equally across all three
waves of focus groups throughout the course of the study. Each stage of PSA development depending on
information gathered from the groups and it was essential that we were talking to the "same" audience during
each wave. The preparation at the start of the study allowed us to proceed consistently throughout the 14
months.
5. Meetings, training, and scripts are important for recruiters. Recruiting is a complex process
that requires concentrated effort to keep it consistent and to coordinate all the parties involved. The Mass
Media Project had two graduate students who oversaw the recruiting process throughout the 14 months, and
they met on a weekly basis with the project manager and investigators to report on recruiting activities and
discuss issues including any strategy changes. Recruiting scripts, ads, and posters were also reviewed by all
key project personnel to assure that research objectives were being met. During the course of the 14 months
several other students assisted in recruiting activities, and these students were provided with the written
material and introduced to the proper procedures with one-on-one training sessions that lasted an hour or
hour and a half.
6. Building good leads is essential to successful telephone recruiting. As noted, our
experience with random dialing from lists proved to be extremely costly and returned poor results. We found
the time was better spent developing leads from other sources, then following these up with a recruiting call.
7. Finding ways to reach community members was challenging, but possible. Recruiting
students had few barriers, but finding community members in this target population was much more difficult.
Developing several different strategies and assessing the results of each showed that this group was best
reached through print ads, referrals and posters at carefully selected sites.


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