Recruiting study participants via Facebook results in larger, more diverse pool

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The researchers behind the ongoing Genes for Good genetic study have found that recruiting participants from Facebook and offering them free DNA reports has solved many of the issues associated with study samples, they wrote in the American Journal of Human Genetics this week.

Since the study was launched at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in January 2015, more than 27,000 people who signed up through the Genes for Good Facebook app have returned their at-home DNA testing kits. Participation in the study is mutually beneficial: The scientists receive more data to analyze in further genetic research and, in return, participants receive a free genetic report based on that data.

According to the authors, the 20,000 participants whose data have been analyzed so far come from all 50 states and from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, and carry rates of chronic disease indicators representative of the U.S. population. Not only is the pool therefore larger, more diverse and more representative than many other studies but, since participants are voluntarily recruited through Facebook, recruitment has also been considerably less expensive.

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