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Facebook enables disaster research studies: The use of social media to recruit participants in a post-disaster setting

Journal article
Authors K. Hugelius
A. Adolfsson
M. Gifford
Per Örtenwall
Published in PLOS Currents
Volume 8
Issue Disasters
ISSN 2157-3999
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Surgery
Language en
Subject categories Disaster medicine, Human Aspects of ICT


Introduction: Disaster research entails several methodological challenges, given the context of a disaster. This article aims to describe and evaluate the use of Facebook as a tool to recruit participants for a self-selected Internet sample using a web-based survey in a post-disaster setting in the Philippines after the Haiyan typhoon hit parts of the country in November 2013. Method: An invitation to a web-based survey about health was posted on several Facebook pages during a ten-day period. Results: In total, 443 individuals who had survived the Haiyan typhoon participated in the study. The demographics of the study sample were similar to the general demographics in the Philippines, considering gender, age distribution and level of education. Discussion: The study showed that the use of social media to recruit participants for disaster research could limit several of the practical and ethical challenges connected to disaster research. However, the method demands access to the Internet and requires several strategic considerations, particularly concerning non-probability sample biases and generalization as well as an active approach from the researcher. © 2016 Public Library of Science. All rights reserved.

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