Conducting Anonymous, Incentivized, Online Surveys With Sexual and Gender Minority Adolescents: Lessons Learned From a National Polyvictimization Study


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Sexual and gender minority adolescents represent an understudied and hard-to-reach population who experience higher rates of mental and behavioral health problems in comparison to their cisgender, heterosexual peers. Online surveys and the proliferation of Internet-connected devices among adolescents offer an exciting opportunity for researchers to begin addressing research gaps and past methodological limitations with these hard-to-reach populations. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance to researchers who are designing and implementing anonymous, incentivized, online surveys by examining the following critical domains-(a) recruitment and engagement: means of leveraging social media and videos to recruit and engage a more nationally representative sample; (b) safety and protection: strategies for administering informed consent and protecting participant anonymity and well-being; and (c) data integrity: mechanisms to detect dishonest and repeat responders. To facilitate discussion of these aims, concrete examples are used from SpeakOut-a 3-year, national study funded by the National Institute of Justice that utilized an anonymous, incentivized, online survey with a large sample of sexual and gender minority adolescents ( N = 1,177) to identify the prevalence, incidence, and correlates of polyvictimization. The article concludes with lessons learned from this national study and recommendations for technological innovations and future research that will strengthen the utility of anonymous, incentivized, online surveys to study sexual and gender minority adolescents and other hard-to-reach populations.

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