Social Media and Web-Based Recruitment Strategies for a Preeclampsia Postpartum Lifestyle Intervention Trial

Presentation Number: SAT 527
Date of Presentation: April 1st, 2017

Nicholas Nasser*1, Geraldine Skurnik2, Jennifer Stuart3, Joeli Katz2, Grace Chen2, Andrea T Roche2, Janet Rich-Edwards2, Eleni Tsigas4, Laney Poye4 and Ellen Wells Seely5
1Tufts University, Medford, MA, 2Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, 3Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 4Preeclampsia Foundation, Melbourne, FL, 5Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA


Women with prior preeclampsia (PE) are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD); the postpartum period presents an opportunity to introduce lifestyle modification to decrease risk. However, recruitment of women with infants and young children into research studies is difficult with traditional methods.

Heart Health 4 Moms (HH4M) is an ongoing nationwide study led by researchers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital (Boston, MA) in partnership with the Preeclampsia Foundation (PF), the largest patient advocacy organization for PE survivors. HH4M investigates whether a web-based lifestyle intervention for women with a recent history of PE can increase CVD risk knowledge and self-efficacy in relation to nutrition and physical activity. We aimed to recruit 150 women from across the US in one year. With input from patient focus groups and an advisory council lead by the PF, we devised a patient centered social media and web-based recruitment approach.

We recruited through social media and website postings from the PF, March of Dimes, Craigslist, and BabyCenter. The National Association of County and City Health Officials disseminated recruitment materials to providers for patient referrals. Flyers were provided to networks providers to be posted in their offices and also placed in Women Infants & Children (WIC) Program offices. Recruitment materials directed women to an online questionnaire to determine initial eligibility. Eligibility required women to be healthy, within 5 years of a live birth complicated by PE, resident of a US state/territory, 18-44 years, able to communicate in English or Spanish, and have internet access. The questionnaire also captured how women heard about the study; possible responses included Craigslist, PF (Website, Facebook, Twitter page), BabyCenter, Facebook, Twitter, doctor referral, family/friend, email, Google, flyer, and other. We asked for zip code of residence for geographic distribution and obtained medical records to validate PE.

We achieved our recruitment goal of 150 women in one year and participants represented 41 states. The majority (90%) was recruited via social media and web-based sources; 9% were recruited through flyer, email, or referral, and 1% did not specify. The plurality of participants (69/150) was directly attributable to the PF, while 41% came from Facebook. Due to the viral nature of social media sharing, it was not possible to discern the exact pathways in which all women came in contact with the web-based recruitment materials. Although Craigslist and BabyCenter generated many responses, the highest yield of medically-validated PE cases came from the PF’s online channels.

Social media and web-based recruitment tools, as well as partnering with the PF, were key to reaching our nationwide recruitment goal of 150 women within one year. These may be important tools for successful recruitment of postpartum women in future studies.


Nothing to Disclose: NN, GS, JS, JK, GC, ATR, JR, ET, LP, EWS