Using the Facebook advertisement platform to recruit Chinese, Korean, and Latinx cancer survivors for psychosocial research: Web-based survey study

William Tsai, Daisy Zavala, Sol Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Background: Ethnic minority cancer survivors remain an understudied and underrepresented population in cancer research, in part, due to the challenge of low participant recruitment rates. Therefore, identifying effective recruitment strategies is imperative for reducing cancer health disparities among this population. With the widespread use of social media, health researchers have turned to Facebook as a potential source of recruitment. Objective: We aimed to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of purchasing ads on Facebook to recruit Chinese, Korean, and Latinx cancer survivors residing in the United States. We assessed their experience with participating in a Web-based survey and their interest for future research. Methods: We showed 5 purchased ads in English, simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Korean, and Spanish on Facebook. Participants who clicked on the Facebook ad were directed to the study website and asked to submit their emails to receive the link to the 30-minute Web-based survey. Inclusion criteria included being of Asian or Latinx heritage, age ≥18 years, having a cancer diagnosis, and being within 5 years of cancer treatment. Participants who completed the survey were sent a US $10 Walmart eGiftcard. Results: The Facebook ads were shown for 48 consecutive days for a total spending of US $1200.46 (US $25/day budget). Overall, 11 East Asian and 15 Latinx cancer survivors completed the study, resulting in an average cost per participant of US $46.17. The East Asian and Latinx cancer survivors did not significantly differ in age, years lived in the United States, education level, generation status, and time since diagnosis. However, Latinx cancer survivors were marginally more likely to have limited English proficiency and lower annual income than East Asian cancer survivors. Both Latinx and East Asian cancer survivors reported that they enjoyed participating in this study and indicated an interest in participating in future psychosocial research studies. Conclusions: The use of Facebook ads successfully resulted in the recruitment of East Asian and Latinx cancer survivors with different cancer diagnoses who reside in various geographic regions of the United States. We found that East Asian and Latinx cancer survivors recruited through Facebook were interested in participating in future psychosocial research, thereby providing support for the feasibility and effectiveness of using Facebook as a source of recruitment for ethnic minority cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11571
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019



  • Chinese cancer survivor
  • Ethnic minority cancer survivor
  • Facebook recruitment
  • Korean cancer survivor
  • Latinx cancer survivor
  • Mobile phone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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