Journal Article

Lifestage differences in young UK women’s reasons for research participation


Lifecourse epidemiology suggests that preconception is a valuable opportunity for health promotion with young women. Yet young women are less likely than older women to be research participants, limiting evidence about their needs and risks. Marketing data indicate that young adults are not engaged with one advertising strategy because they transition through three life stages: (1) limited independence and focus on own interests, (2) increased independence and time with peers, (3) establishing a home and family. The aim of this study was to explore whether these marketing lifestage categories could inform the tailoring of strategies to recruit young women.Three focus groups per lifestage category were conducted (49 women aged 16 to 34 years). Lifestage category (1) was represented by further education students, category (2) by women in workplaces, and (3) by mothers. Questions explored participants’ lifestyles, identity, reasons for participation in the current study and beliefs about researchers. Three major themes were identified through framework analysis: Profiling how young women spend their time; Facilitators of participating in research; and Barriers to participating. Students and women in work valued monetary remuneration whereas mothers preferred social opportunities. Participants’ perceived identity influenced whether they felt useful to research. All groups expressed anxiety about participation. Altruism was limited to helping people known to participants. Therefore, the marketing categories did not map exactly to differences in young women’s motivations to participate but have highlighted how one recruitment strategy may not engage all. Mass media communication could, instead, increase familiarity and reduce anxiety about participation.

Attached files


Howcutt, Sarah J.
Barbosa-Bouças, Sofia
Brett, Jo
Barnett, Anna L.
Smith, Lesley A.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Nursing
Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-03-23

“This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Health Promotion International following peer review. The version of record is available online at:”

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