Recruiting Military Veterans into Alcohol Misuse Research: The Role of Social Media and Facebook Advertising
Abstract: The use of digital technology within health care service delivery, monitoring, and research is becoming progressively popular, particularly given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Mobile health (m-health) apps, one form of digital technology, are increasingly being used to promote positive health related behavior change. Therefore, it is important to conduct research to understand the efficacy of m-health apps. The process of participant recruitment is an essential component in producing strong research evidence, along with ensuring an adequately powered sample to conduct meaningful analyses and draw robust conclusions. Methods: In this work we outline and reflect on the strategies used to recruit help-seeking military veterans into an intervention study, which aimed to evaluate the efficacy of an app (Drinks:Ration) to modify behavior in alcohol misusers. Recruitment strategies included through (1) partner organizations and (2) social media and Facebook advertising (ads). Facebook ads were live for a period of 88 days and were viewed by a total audience of 29,416 people. In total 168 military veterans were recruited across all recruitment strategies, meaning that Drinks:Ration exceeded its recruitment targets. Half of the sample (n = 84) were recruited through social media, including Facebook ads. The current article highlighted that targeted Facebook ads were an efficient strategy to recruit military veterans into a digital intervention trial aiming to reduce alcohol consumption because they reduced the amount of time and resources required to contact a large number of potentially eligible individuals for our study. This article acts as a starting point for other researchers to evaluate their recruitment pathways for recruiting military veterans into alcohol misuse research.
Abstract: We sought to quantify the impact of injury characteristics and setting on the development of mental health conditions, comparing combat to noncombat injury mechanisms. Due to advances in combat casualty care, military service-members are surviving traumatic injuries at substantial rates. The nature and setting of traumatic injury may influence the development of subsequent mental health disorders more than clinical injury characteristics. TRICARE claims data was used to identify servicemembers injured in combat between 2007 and 2011. Controls were servicemembers injured in a noncombat setting matched by age, sex, and injury severity. The rate of development, and time to diagnosis [in days (d)], of 3 common mental health conditions (post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety) among combat-injured servicemembers were compared to controls. Risk factors for developing a new mental health condition after traumatic injury were evaluated using multivariable logistic regression that controlled for confounders. There were 3979 combat-injured servicemember and 3979 matched controls. The majority of combat injured servicemembers (n = 2524, 63%) were diagnosed with a new mental health condition during the course of follow-up, compared to 36% (n = 1415) of controls (P < 0.001). In the adjusted model, those with combat-related injury were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a new mental health condition [odds ratio (OR): 3.18, [95% confidence interval (CI): 2.88–3.50]]. Junior (OR: 3.33, 95%CI: 2.66–4.17) and senior enlisted (OR: 2.56, 95%CI: 2.07–3.17) servicemem-bers were also at significantly greater risk. We found significantly higher rates of new mental health conditions among servicemembers injured in combat compared to service-members sustaining injuries in noncombat settings. This indicates that injury mechanism and environment are important drivers of mental health sequelae after trauma.