Introduction: Although technology-assisted tobacco interventions (TATIs) are effective, they are underused due to recruitment challenges. We tested whether we could successfully recruit smokers to a TATI using peer marketing through a social network (Facebook).
Methods: We recruited smokers on Facebook using online advertisements. These recruited smokers (seeds) and subsequent waves of smokers (peer recruits) were provided the Share2Quit peer recruitment Facebook app and other tools. Smokers were incentivized for up to seven successful peer recruitments and had 30 days to recruit from date of registration. Successful peer recruitment was defined as a peer recruited smoker completing the registration on the TATI following a referral. Our primary questions were (1) whether smokers would recruit other smokers and (2) whether peer recruitment would extend the reach of the intervention to harder-to-reach groups, including those not ready to quit and minority smokers.
Results: Overall, 759 smokers were recruited (seeds: 190; peer recruits: 569). Fifteen percent (n = 117) of smokers successfully recruited their peers (seeds: 24.7%; peer recruits: 7.7%) leading to four recruitment waves. Compared to seeds, peer recruits were less likely to be ready to quit (peer recruits 74.2% vs. seeds 95.1%), more likely to be male (67.1% vs. 32.9%), and more likely to be African American (23.8% vs. 10.8%) (p < .01 for all comparisons).
Conclusions: Peer marketing quadrupled our engaged smokers and enriched the sample with not-ready-to-quit and African American smokers. Peer recruitment is promising, and our study uncovered several important challenges for future research.
Implications: This study demonstrates the successful recruitment of smokers to a TATI using a Facebook-based peer marketing strategy. Smokers on Facebook were willing and able to recruit other smokers to a TATI, yielding a large and diverse population of smokers.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/sarah_cutrona/53/