Skip to main content

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

Howcutt, Sarah; Barbosa Bouças, Sofia; Brett, Jo; Barnett, Anna; Smith, Lesley


Sarah Howcutt

Sofia Barbosa Bouças

Jo Brett

Anna Barnett

Lesley Smith


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.

Journal Article Type Article
Print ISSN 0957-4824
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
APA6 Citation Howcutt, S., Barbosa Bouças, S., Brett, J., Barnett, A., & Smith, L. (in press). Lifestage differences in young UK women’s reasons for research participation. Health Promotion International,
Keywords women; social marketing; health behaviour; prevention; anxiety; ethics; epidemiology; advertising; altruism; health promotion; life style; mass media; mothers; peer group; workplace; health behavior; older adult; young adult; marketing; prevention; social