Recruiting Fathers for Parenting Research: An Evaluation of Eight Recruitment Methods and an Exploration of Fathers' Motivations for Participation

Feb 2022 | Haley E. Yaremych & Susan Persky


Objective.We evaluated eight recruitment methods (Craigslist, Facebook ads, Google AdWords, in-person, newspaper, parenting magazines, ResearchMatch, and direct mailing) in terms of their ability to accrue fathers of 3- to 7-year-old children into a laboratory-based behavioral trial for parents. The trial was related to child obesity risk and parental health behaviors. Design.Each recruitment method was implemented such that half its occurrences advertised for fathers only, and half advertised for mothers and fathers. Methods were evaluated in terms of number of fathers recruited, cost- and time-efficiency, response rates, and demographic characteristics of individuals recruited. We also assessed fathers’ and mothers’ motivations for participating in the study. 101 fathers and 260 mothers were recruited. Results.Father-targeted ads were essential for father recruitment; 79% of accruals from father-targeted ads were male, whereas only 14% of accruals from parent-targeted ads were male. Craigslist, ResearchMatch, and Facebook ads were the most cost-efficient for accruing fathers. A greater proportion of fathers was motivated by increasing fathers’ representation in research (16%) compared to mothers who wished to increase mothers’ representation in research (5.4%). Similar proportions of fathers and mothers were motivated by improving their parenting knowledge and improving their child’s health. Conclusions.Future researchers should employ father-targeted recruitment materials (rather than parent-targeted) that capitalize on fathers’ unique motivations for participating in research.

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