Facebook advertisements recruit parents of children with cancer for an online survey of web-based research preferences

Posted: Aug 29, 2017
Cancer Nurs. 38. 2. 155-161.
KEYWORDS: Children, Adolescent/Young Adult, Web, Social Media, Cancer


Facebook was a useful, cost-effective method to recruit a diverse sample of parent caregivers of children with cancer. 

Why this item may be useful

Facebook ads may be a useful tool to identify parent caregivers of children eligible for pediatric palliative care and oncology studies.Facebook's paid advertising program was used to recruit parent caregivers of children currently living with cancer to complete an electronic survey about research preferences and technological capability.  The ad ran from June 19, 2012 to August 31, 2012. The ad targeted age (18 years and up), location (United States), language (English), and childhood cancer related interest terms within Facebook profiles (e.g., childhood cancer, fight against childhood cancer, child cancer foundation, cure childhood cancer, pediatric cancer research foundation, pediatric oncology group, children's oncology group). The ad contained a three-word title, photograph (which changed weekly), one-sentence description inviting parents of children with cancer to complete a short survey for a chance to win a $100 Apple gift card, and link to an electronic REDcap survey.  Facebook approved the ad and specified ad size and word count. A maximum lifetime total spending amount of $3000 for the ad was determined and the option to pay per click using Facebook's suggested bid price of $0.34 to $0.66 was selected. Facebook determined the bid range based on how much other advertisers are willing to pay to reach the same target audience. Facebook automatically provided statistics on impressions (number of times an ad is shown to a user), clicks (when a user clicks on the ad link), and dollars spent. 



  • The advertising campaign generated 3,897,981 impressions, which resulted in 1050 clicks at a cost of $1129.88. 
  • The average cost per click was $1.08. 
  • Of 300 individuals who clicked on the survey, 284 were screened, 106 were eligible, 67 started the survey and 45 completed the survey. 
  • Recruitment was completed in 10.5 weeks. In contrast, a previous study required 12 months to recruit 8 children.