Background This paper is a reflection by a PhD candidate on her qualitative study involving parents, diabetes educators and school teachers who were caring for a child with type 1 diabetes using intensive insulin therapy in primary school.
Aim To reflect on a novice researcher’s experience of recruiting research participants from community, health and education settings in Australia.
Discussion Participants were successfully recruited for the study using internet communication tools: Facebook support groups; the Australian Diabetes Educators Association (ADEA) e-newsletter; and emails sent to school principals. These methods were successful as Facebook and online support groups are popular, the study topic was of interest, the ADEA has many members, and numerous emails were sent to schools. Potential barriers to recruitment were a lack of access to those who did not use Facebook or the internet, gatekeepers, the high workloads of diabetes educators and teachers, and the time needed to obtain ethics approval and send a large number of emails to schools.
Conclusion Internet communication tools were successful in recruiting participants from community, health and education settings. However, different approaches were required for each type of participant. Lessons learned from this experience were: the importance of taking time to plan recruitment, including an in-depth understanding of potential participants and recruitment tools, the benefit of being an insider, and the need to work closely with gatekeepers.
Implications for practice An understanding of recruitment is essential for ensuring access to appropriate participants and timely collection of data. The experience of the novice researcher may provide insight to others planning to use internet communication tools for recruitment.
This article has been subject to double-blind review and checked for plagiarism using automated software