Challenges for Researchers Investigating Contraceptive Use and Pregnancy Intentions of Young Women Living in Urban and Rural Areas of Australia: Face-to-Face Discussions to Increase Participation in a Web-Based Survey
BACKGROUND: It is imperative to understand how to engage young women in research about issues that are important to them. There is limited reliable data on how young women access contraception in Australia especially in rural areas where services may be less available. OBJECTIVE: This paper identifies the challenges involved in engaging young Australian women aged 18-23 years to participate in a web-based survey on contraception and pregnancy and ensure their ongoing commitment to follow-up web-based surveys. METHODS: A group of young women, aged 18-23 years and living in urban and rural New South Wales, Australia, were recruited to participate in face-to-face discussions using several methods of recruitment: direct contact (face-to-face, telephone or email) and snowball sampling by potential participants inviting their friends. All discussions were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using thematic analysis. RESULTS: Twenty young women participated (urban, n=10: mean age 21.6 years; rural, n=10: 20.0 years) and all used computers or smart phones to access the internet on a daily basis. All participants were concerned about the cost of internet access and utilized free access to social media on their mobile phones. Their willingness to participate in a web-based survey was dependent on incentives with a preference for small financial rewards. Most participants were concerned about their personal details and survey responses remaining confidential and secure. The most appropriate survey would take up to 15 minutes to complete, be a mix of short and long questions and eye-catching with bright colours. Questions on the sensitive topics of sexual activity, contraception and pregnancy were acceptable if they could respond with "I prefer not to answer". CONCLUSIONS: There are demographic, participation and survey design challenges in engaging young women in a web-based survey. Based on our findings, future research efforts are needed to understand the full extent of the role social media and incentives play in the decision of young women to participate in web-based research.