Recruiting rural and urban LGBT populations online: differences in participant characteristics between email and Craigslist approaches
Current recruitment strategies to reach lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups typically yield highly localized, mostly urban samples. Online recruitment strategies hold much promise for engaging rural and other underrepresented LGBT individuals in health research, but little research has been conducted examining the relative strengths of differing online recruitment methods. The purpose of the current study was to explore the effectiveness of both email and Craigslist recruitment to access rural sexual and gender minorities, and to examine if individuals across modalities differ significantly from each other with regards to demographic and psychosocial characteristics. Participants for the study were recruited through two sequentially implemented online convenience sampling recruitment methods: listserv based and Craigslist based. Participants completed an online battery assessing demographic characteristics, disclosure of sexual orientation/gender identity, health behaviors, and various psychosocial characteristics. A total of 3279 LGBT-identified individuals were recruited, 980 through Listservs and 2299 through Craigslist. Participants came from all 50 US states and nearly 30 % reported living in a rural area. When comparing the Listserv and Craigslist recruits, the groups differed on nearly every demographic and psychosocial characteristic assessed, ranging from racial/ethnic diversity to levels of psychological distress. Online recruitment strategies are feasible for accessing both rural and urban LGBT populations, and are highly effective at doing so. These strategies yield samples with remarkable diversity geographically, demographically, and psychosocially. In addition, similar to comparisons between in-person and online recruitment, samples recruited through different online methods significantly differ from each other in demographic and psychosocial characteristics.
KeywordsRural LGBT Online recruitment Health disparities Technology
This project was supported by seed funding from the Rural Health Research Institute.
All research was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board at Georgia Southern University. All participants completed an electronic informed consent process prior to participation in the study.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
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