Publication Title

JMIR Mental Health

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2018

Abstract

Background: Younger military veterans are at high risk for psychiatric disorders and suicide. Reaching and engaging veterans in mental health care and research is challenging. Social media platforms may be an effective channel to connect with veterans.

Objective: This study tested the effectiveness of Facebook advertisements in reaching and recruiting Iraq and Afghanistan-era military veterans in a research study focused on mental health.

Methods: Facebook ads requesting participation in an online health survey ran for six weeks in 2017. Ads varied imagery and headlines. Validated instruments were used to screen for psychiatric disorders and suicidality. Outcomes included impressions, click-through rate, survey completion, and cost per survey completed.

Results: Advertisements produced 827,918 impressions, 9,527 clicks, and 587 survey completions. Lack of enrollment in Veterans Affairs health care (193/587, 33%) and positive screens for current mental health problems were common, including posttraumatic stress disorder (266/585, 45%), problematic drinking (243/584, 42%), major depression (164/586, 28%), and suicidality (132/585, 23%). Approximately half of the survey participants (285/587, 49%) were recruited with just 2 of the 15 ads, which showed soldiers marching tied to an “incentive” or “sharing” headline. These 2 ads were also the most cost-effective, at US $4.88 and US $5.90 per participant, respectively. Among veterans with current suicidal ideation, the survey-taking image resulted in higher survey completion than the soldiers marching image (P=.007).

Conclusions: Facebook advertisements are effective in rapidly and inexpensively reaching military veterans, including those at risk for mental health problems and suicidality, and those not receiving Veterans Affairs health care. Advertisement image and headlines may help optimize the effectiveness of advertisements for specific subgroups.

Description

© Alan R Teo, Samuel BL Liebow, Benjamin Chan, Steven K Dobscha, Amanda L Graham. Originally published in JMIR Mental Health (http://mental.jmir.org), 05.07.2018. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Mental Health, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://mental.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

Locate the Document

https://doi.org/10.2196/10078

DOI

10.2196/10078

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/28105

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