The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention: Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study

Shannon Gwin Mitchell, Robert P. Schwartz, Anika A H Alvanzo, Monique S. Weisman, Tiffany L. Kyle, Eva M. Turrigiano, Martha L. Gibson, Livangelie Perez, Erin A. McClure, Sara Clingerman, Autumn Froias, Danielle R. Shandera, Robrina Walker, Dean L. Babcock, Genie L. Bailey, Gloria M. Miele, Lynn E. Kunkel, Michael Norton, Maxine L. Stitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The growing use of newer communication and Internet technologies, even among low-income and transient populations, require research staff to update their outreach strategies to ensure high follow-up and participant retention rates. This paper presents the views of research assistants on the use of cell phones and the Internet to track participants in a multisite randomized trial of substance use disorder treatment. Methods: Preinterview questionnaires exploring tracking and other study-related activities were collected from 21 research staff across the 10 participating US sites. Data were then used to construct a semistructured interview guide that, in turn, was used to interview 12 of the same staff members. The questionnaires and interview data were entered in Atlas.ti and analyzed for emergent themes related to the use of technology for participant-tracking purposes. Results: Study staff reported that most participants had cell phones, despite having unstable physical addresses and landlines. The incoming call feature of most cell phones was useful for participants and research staff alike, and texting proved to have additional benefits. However, reliance on participants' cell phones also proved problematic. Even homeless participants were found to have access to the Internet through public libraries and could respond to study staff e-mails. Some study sites opened generic social media accounts, through which study staff sent private messages to participants. However, the institutional review board (IRB) approval process for tracking participants using social media at some sites was prohibitively lengthy. Internet searches through Google, national paid databases, obituaries, and judiciary Web sites were also helpful tools. Conclusions: Research staff perceive that cell phones, Internet searches, and social networking sites were effective tools to achieve high follow-up rates in drug abuse research. Studies should incorporate cell phone, texting, and social network Web site information on locator forms; obtain IRB approval for contacting participants using social networking Web sites; and include Web searches, texting, and the use of social media in staff training as standard operating procedures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-426
Number of pages7
JournalSubstance Abuse
Volume36
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015

Fingerprint

Cell Phones
Internet
Clinical Trials
Text Messaging
Social Media
Technology
Research
Social Networking
Research Ethics Committees
Interviews
Substance-Related Disorders
Atlases
Postal Service
Poverty
Social Support
Libraries
Communication
Databases

Keywords

  • Clinical trials
  • participant tracking
  • social media
  • technology
  • texting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Mitchell, S. G., Schwartz, R. P., Alvanzo, A. A. H., Weisman, M. S., Kyle, T. L., Turrigiano, E. M., ... Stitzer, M. L. (2015). The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention: Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study. Substance Abuse, 36(4), 420-426. https://doi.org/10.1080/08897077.2014.992565

The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention : Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study. / Mitchell, Shannon Gwin; Schwartz, Robert P.; Alvanzo, Anika A H; Weisman, Monique S.; Kyle, Tiffany L.; Turrigiano, Eva M.; Gibson, Martha L.; Perez, Livangelie; McClure, Erin A.; Clingerman, Sara; Froias, Autumn; Shandera, Danielle R.; Walker, Robrina; Babcock, Dean L.; Bailey, Genie L.; Miele, Gloria M.; Kunkel, Lynn E.; Norton, Michael; Stitzer, Maxine L.

In: Substance Abuse, Vol. 36, No. 4, 02.10.2015, p. 420-426.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mitchell, SG, Schwartz, RP, Alvanzo, AAH, Weisman, MS, Kyle, TL, Turrigiano, EM, Gibson, ML, Perez, L, McClure, EA, Clingerman, S, Froias, A, Shandera, DR, Walker, R, Babcock, DL, Bailey, GL, Miele, GM, Kunkel, LE, Norton, M & Stitzer, ML 2015, 'The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention: Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study', Substance Abuse, vol. 36, no. 4, pp. 420-426. https://doi.org/10.1080/08897077.2014.992565
Mitchell, Shannon Gwin ; Schwartz, Robert P. ; Alvanzo, Anika A H ; Weisman, Monique S. ; Kyle, Tiffany L. ; Turrigiano, Eva M. ; Gibson, Martha L. ; Perez, Livangelie ; McClure, Erin A. ; Clingerman, Sara ; Froias, Autumn ; Shandera, Danielle R. ; Walker, Robrina ; Babcock, Dean L. ; Bailey, Genie L. ; Miele, Gloria M. ; Kunkel, Lynn E. ; Norton, Michael ; Stitzer, Maxine L. / The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention : Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study. In: Substance Abuse. 2015 ; Vol. 36, No. 4. pp. 420-426.
@article{61fec701afbc487ebb68ad22afc39158,
title = "The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention: Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study",
abstract = "The growing use of newer communication and Internet technologies, even among low-income and transient populations, require research staff to update their outreach strategies to ensure high follow-up and participant retention rates. This paper presents the views of research assistants on the use of cell phones and the Internet to track participants in a multisite randomized trial of substance use disorder treatment. Methods: Preinterview questionnaires exploring tracking and other study-related activities were collected from 21 research staff across the 10 participating US sites. Data were then used to construct a semistructured interview guide that, in turn, was used to interview 12 of the same staff members. The questionnaires and interview data were entered in Atlas.ti and analyzed for emergent themes related to the use of technology for participant-tracking purposes. Results: Study staff reported that most participants had cell phones, despite having unstable physical addresses and landlines. The incoming call feature of most cell phones was useful for participants and research staff alike, and texting proved to have additional benefits. However, reliance on participants' cell phones also proved problematic. Even homeless participants were found to have access to the Internet through public libraries and could respond to study staff e-mails. Some study sites opened generic social media accounts, through which study staff sent private messages to participants. However, the institutional review board (IRB) approval process for tracking participants using social media at some sites was prohibitively lengthy. Internet searches through Google, national paid databases, obituaries, and judiciary Web sites were also helpful tools. Conclusions: Research staff perceive that cell phones, Internet searches, and social networking sites were effective tools to achieve high follow-up rates in drug abuse research. Studies should incorporate cell phone, texting, and social network Web site information on locator forms; obtain IRB approval for contacting participants using social networking Web sites; and include Web searches, texting, and the use of social media in staff training as standard operating procedures.",
keywords = "Clinical trials, participant tracking, social media, technology, texting",
author = "Mitchell, {Shannon Gwin} and Schwartz, {Robert P.} and Alvanzo, {Anika A H} and Weisman, {Monique S.} and Kyle, {Tiffany L.} and Turrigiano, {Eva M.} and Gibson, {Martha L.} and Livangelie Perez and McClure, {Erin A.} and Sara Clingerman and Autumn Froias and Shandera, {Danielle R.} and Robrina Walker and Babcock, {Dean L.} and Bailey, {Genie L.} and Miele, {Gloria M.} and Kunkel, {Lynn E.} and Michael Norton and Stitzer, {Maxine L.}",
year = "2015",
month = "10",
day = "2",
doi = "10.1080/08897077.2014.992565",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "36",
pages = "420--426",
journal = "Substance Abuse",
issn = "0889-7077",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The Use of Technology in Participant Tracking and Study Retention

T2 - Lessons Learned from a Clinical Trials Network Study

AU - Mitchell, Shannon Gwin

AU - Schwartz, Robert P.

AU - Alvanzo, Anika A H

AU - Weisman, Monique S.

AU - Kyle, Tiffany L.

AU - Turrigiano, Eva M.

AU - Gibson, Martha L.

AU - Perez, Livangelie

AU - McClure, Erin A.

AU - Clingerman, Sara

AU - Froias, Autumn

AU - Shandera, Danielle R.

AU - Walker, Robrina

AU - Babcock, Dean L.

AU - Bailey, Genie L.

AU - Miele, Gloria M.

AU - Kunkel, Lynn E.

AU - Norton, Michael

AU - Stitzer, Maxine L.

PY - 2015/10/2

Y1 - 2015/10/2

N2 - The growing use of newer communication and Internet technologies, even among low-income and transient populations, require research staff to update their outreach strategies to ensure high follow-up and participant retention rates. This paper presents the views of research assistants on the use of cell phones and the Internet to track participants in a multisite randomized trial of substance use disorder treatment. Methods: Preinterview questionnaires exploring tracking and other study-related activities were collected from 21 research staff across the 10 participating US sites. Data were then used to construct a semistructured interview guide that, in turn, was used to interview 12 of the same staff members. The questionnaires and interview data were entered in Atlas.ti and analyzed for emergent themes related to the use of technology for participant-tracking purposes. Results: Study staff reported that most participants had cell phones, despite having unstable physical addresses and landlines. The incoming call feature of most cell phones was useful for participants and research staff alike, and texting proved to have additional benefits. However, reliance on participants' cell phones also proved problematic. Even homeless participants were found to have access to the Internet through public libraries and could respond to study staff e-mails. Some study sites opened generic social media accounts, through which study staff sent private messages to participants. However, the institutional review board (IRB) approval process for tracking participants using social media at some sites was prohibitively lengthy. Internet searches through Google, national paid databases, obituaries, and judiciary Web sites were also helpful tools. Conclusions: Research staff perceive that cell phones, Internet searches, and social networking sites were effective tools to achieve high follow-up rates in drug abuse research. Studies should incorporate cell phone, texting, and social network Web site information on locator forms; obtain IRB approval for contacting participants using social networking Web sites; and include Web searches, texting, and the use of social media in staff training as standard operating procedures.

AB - The growing use of newer communication and Internet technologies, even among low-income and transient populations, require research staff to update their outreach strategies to ensure high follow-up and participant retention rates. This paper presents the views of research assistants on the use of cell phones and the Internet to track participants in a multisite randomized trial of substance use disorder treatment. Methods: Preinterview questionnaires exploring tracking and other study-related activities were collected from 21 research staff across the 10 participating US sites. Data were then used to construct a semistructured interview guide that, in turn, was used to interview 12 of the same staff members. The questionnaires and interview data were entered in Atlas.ti and analyzed for emergent themes related to the use of technology for participant-tracking purposes. Results: Study staff reported that most participants had cell phones, despite having unstable physical addresses and landlines. The incoming call feature of most cell phones was useful for participants and research staff alike, and texting proved to have additional benefits. However, reliance on participants' cell phones also proved problematic. Even homeless participants were found to have access to the Internet through public libraries and could respond to study staff e-mails. Some study sites opened generic social media accounts, through which study staff sent private messages to participants. However, the institutional review board (IRB) approval process for tracking participants using social media at some sites was prohibitively lengthy. Internet searches through Google, national paid databases, obituaries, and judiciary Web sites were also helpful tools. Conclusions: Research staff perceive that cell phones, Internet searches, and social networking sites were effective tools to achieve high follow-up rates in drug abuse research. Studies should incorporate cell phone, texting, and social network Web site information on locator forms; obtain IRB approval for contacting participants using social networking Web sites; and include Web searches, texting, and the use of social media in staff training as standard operating procedures.

KW - Clinical trials

KW - participant tracking

KW - social media

KW - technology

KW - texting

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84948101632&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84948101632&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1080/08897077.2014.992565

DO - 10.1080/08897077.2014.992565

M3 - Article

C2 - 25671593

AN - SCOPUS:84948101632

VL - 36

SP - 420

EP - 426

JO - Substance Abuse

JF - Substance Abuse

SN - 0889-7077

IS - 4

ER -