Online Program

Using effective digital incentives in recruitment of a hidden population: Itunes gifting

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Christine M. Holland, PhD, Counseling and Psychological Services, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Natalie Ritchie, Ph.D., Denver Health, Denver, CO
Jason Cencirulo, BA, Department of Education and Psychology, Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, CA
Jason Churchill, AA, Behavioral Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Pomona, CA
Background: Recruitment is a challenging phase of research, especially when targeting hard-to-reach populations. Inefficient enrollment can lead to high costs and delays in achieving adequate sample size. To create an efficient and low-cost recruitment method, we incentivized participation with digital song-gifting. We recommend song-gifting as a powerful recruitment tool and present a brief guide for its use. Methods: We advertised our study in Internet message boards and chat rooms for participants likely to represent our target population of Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) who engage in risky health behaviors. Participants were notified compensation would include receiving an iTunes song of their choice and being entered to win an iPod Touch. Participants indicated their song preference on a final online survey. Research personnel then purchased songs individually for participants via credit card through the iTunes “gifting feature.” Results: We enrolled 489 high risk MSM participants in less than five months with an average direct cost of only $1.01 per participant. This method effectively enrolled a sexually high-risk, hidden target population. Conclusions: We recommend song-gifting as an efficient, low-cost recruitment method. Song-gifting may offer experiential, intangible value for research participation, rather than providing solely monetary compensation. Our success with song-gifting recruitment highlights the importance of creative research marketing techniques, especially when targeting hard-to-reach populations.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe method of using iTunes gifting as incentive. Describe the utility of using iTunes gifting versus conventional incentives Discuss how this new incentive can be used

Keyword(s): HIV Risk Behavior, Internet Tools

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on multiple federally funded grants focusing on behavioral interventions for HIV prevention and treatment. Among my scientific interests has been understanding sexual risk in HIV positive MSM.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.