Study Issues

The Wednesday AccrualNet Post (9-19-2012): Craigslist--an unexpectedly effective (and low-cost) recruitment resource

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2012

Originally posted by: Ellen Richmond, AccrualNet Co-Moderator on the former AccrualNet Site, September 13, 2012.


Researchers were seeking a low-cost alternative to a previously used multifaceted recruitment strategy (using flyers, public service announcement, and e-mails) to accrue healthy smokers to a cancer prevention trial. In previous experience targeting a similar population, they accrued approximately 3 participants per month. Researchers postponed using the traditional method so that they could examine the efficacy and efficiency of an alternative--using Craigslist and a Web-based questionnaire. As described in the article1, they posted weekly notices on Craigslist in the section on Manhattan/Community/Volunteers. From there, potential participants were referred to the study's online questionnaire, and those who seemed to be eligible received a follow-up telephone call. The response rate was so high, the researchers decided to use this Web-based approach as the sole recruitment method for their trial. As it turned out, they recruited an average of 5 participants per month and concluded the study 7 months earlier than planned. The sample was appropriately representative of diverse age groups and racial/ethnic groups.


Have you used Craigslist ads as a recruitment strategy or as part of a multifaceted strategy? Please share your experiences here!


1 Mohebati A, Knutson a, Zhou XK, Smith JJ, Brown PH, Dannenberg AJ, Szabo E. A web-based screening and accrual for a cancer prevention clinical trial in healthy smokers. Contemp Clin Trials. 2012 Sep; 33(55):942-8.

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