Session: Research Methods 2.0: Using Technology to Conduct Research on Stigmatized Social Problems (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

83 Research Methods 2.0: Using Technology to Conduct Research on Stigmatized Social Problems

Friday, January 17, 2020: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Liberty Ballroom I, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD, LCSW-C, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Amanda Mosby, MA, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Philip Osteen, PhD, Florida State University and Boyoung Nam, MSW, University of Maryland Baltimore
Research about issues such as depression, substance use and suicide is challenging because of stigma and safety. The technological complexity of recruiting and conducting research online adds additional hurdles to consider. Difficulties in recruitment and enrollment can negatively impact research and delay study timelines, which may result in subsequent protocol and funding-related issues. Conducting behavioral health research online also raises new questions about safety planning procedures.

Many grant mechanisms have tight budgets. Frequent limits in grant resources may preclude using high cost recruitment tools (i.e., billboards, radio, PSAs/TV). Printed recruitment materials (i.e., posters, flyers, brochures) can be effective, but research targeting hard to reach populations, such as working-aged men struggling with depression and suicide as in the current study, need more proactive approaches. Online recruitment can increase access using targeted advertising to specific groups at relatively low cost. While becoming a widely used strategy, limited research on the development, implementation, evaluation, and safety of online recruiting methods is available.

In this presentation, researchers will discuss learnings from a state-wide campaign (Healthy Men Michigan; HMM) that tested the effectiveness of online screening for depression and suicide, in addition to an online support program for men ages 25-64. Researchers engaged over 240 organizational partners throughout the state and worked with a marketing company to develop male-focused strategies to engage men in the study. Funded by the CDC, this project represents one of the first randomized control trials on online interventions for suicide with working-aged men. Attendees will learn first-hand how the researchers developed best practices for conducting research online, engaged a difficult to reach population using high tech and high touch recruitment strategies, maximized a limited budget, and creatively worked to ensure participant safety with complex online systems and communications. Attendees will also learn how to effectively and safely use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Craig's List, and Reddit for research. Researchers will talk about how they partnered with the University's human subject protection office (IRB) to conduct this study and learn best practices for online research.

Researchers will cover: 1) challenges and facilitators to building a statewide coalition of partners remotely; 2) targeting specific groups to successfully collaborate with on a public health campaign; 3) lessons learned for developing customized recruitment materials to engage a hard to reach population; 4) using social media to target potential participants and stretch funding; and 5) working with the IRB to authenticate people online for enrollment, a relatively new process for researchers and the IRB.

This presentation will provide an interactive format, with audience participation through small group discussion to help attendees learn best practices for conducting research online. During the session, presenters will invite the audience to share their experiences and ask questions as they address each of the topics above. Results from the study provides a foundation for which others can learn to strategically allocate limited resources to get maximum exposure and participation through online and other innovative recruitment modalities.

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