BACKGROUND: We aimed to assess the feasibility of using multiple technologies to recruit and conduct cognitive interviews among young people across the United States to test items measuring sexual and reproductive empowerment . We sought to understand whether these methods could achieve a diverse sample of participants . With more researchers turning to approaches that maintain social distancing in the context of COVID-19, it has become more pressing to refine these remote research methods .
METHODS: We used several online sites to recruit for and conduct cognitive testing of survey items . To recruit potential participants we advertised the study on the free online bulletin board, Craigslist, and the free online social network, Reddit . Interested participants completed an online Qualtrics screening form . To maximize diversity, we purposefully selected individuals to invite for participation . We used the video meeting platform, Zoom, to conduct the cognitive interviews . The interviewer opened a document with the items to be tested, shared the screen with the participant, and gave them control of the mouse and keyboard . After the participant self-administered the survey, the interviewer asked about interpretation and comprehension . After completion of the interviews we sent participants a follow-up survey about their impressions of the research methods and technologies used . We describe the processes, the advantages and disadvantages, and offer recommendations for researchers .
RESULTS: We recruited and interviewed 30 young people from a range of regions, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, education, and experiences with sexual activity . These methods allowed us to recruit a purposefully selected diverse sample in terms of race/ethnicity and region . It also may have offered potential participants a feeling of safety and anonymity leading to greater participation from gay, lesbian, and transgender people who would not have agreed to participate in-person . Conducting the interviews using video chat may also have facilitated the inclusion of individuals who would not volunteer for in-person meetings . Disadvantages of video interviewing included participant challenges to finding a private space for the interview and problems with electronic devices .
CONCLUSIONS: Online technologies can be used to achieve a diverse sample of research participants, contributing to research findings that better respond to young people's unique identities and situations.