Study: Facebook Ads Can Help Track Local HPV Vaccination Rates

September 4, 2014 in News

Facebook is an effective way to estimate variations in human papillomavirus vaccinations among populations at the local level, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Health Data Management reports.

In the study, University of Minnesota researchers said that local-level data often are unavailable because of “small sample sizes, confidentiality concerns and cost.”

Details of Study

The researchers designed the study to assess whether targeted social media advertising campaigns, recruitment strategies and online surveys could provide data on local geographic regions (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 9/2).

For the study, they recruited participants between November 2012 and January 2013 using targeted Facebook advertisements to participate in an online survey about HPV vaccination rates.

Participants were individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 who were living within a 25-mile radius of Minneapolis.

According to the study, 1,003 of the 2,079 individuals who responded to the ads completed the survey. The average advertising cost per completed survey was $1.36.

The researchers noted that 90.6% of the study respondents who provided their postal code information lived within the previously defined geographic study area.

Study Findings

The study found that:

  • 13% of male respondents reported obtaining at least one dose of the HPV vaccine; and
  • 65.6% of female respondents reported obtaining at least one dose of the HPV vaccine.

By comparison:

  • State data estimated that 53.8% of young women in Minnesota and 20.8% of young men in Minnesota reported obtaining at least one dose of the vaccine (Pedulli, Clinical Innovation Technology, 9/3); and
  • National data estimated that 34.5% of women and 2.3% of men obtained at least one dose.

The researchers said the findings indicate “that recruiting a representative sample of young men and women based on county and postal code location to complete a survey on HPV vaccination uptake via the Internet is a cost-effective and feasible strategy.”

They added that the study also “highlights the need for local estimates to assess the variation in HPV vaccine uptake, as these estimates differ considerably from those obtained using survey data that are aggregated to the state or federal level” (Health Data Management, 9/2).

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