The growing use of newer communication and Internet technologies, even among low income and homeless populations, require research staff to update their outreach strategies to ensure high follow-up and participant retention rates. This paper by Shannon Gwin Mitchell and colleagues presents the views of research assistants on the use of cell phones and the Internet to track participants in CTN-0044, which examined the efficacy of an online intervention for substance use disorders (the Therapeutic Education System).
Questionnaires were administered to 21 research staff across the 10 sites participating in CTN-0044. Study staff reported some interesting information about participants:
Most study participants had cell phones, despite often having unstable physical addresses and landlines.
Conclusions: Research staff see cell phones, Internet searches, and social networking sites as effective in achieving high follow-up rates in drug abuse research, making these tools valuable additions to established study procedures. Researchers should consider including cell phone, texting, and social network website information on locator forms; obtaining IRB approval for contacting participants using social networking websites; and including web searches, texting, and use of social media in staff training as standard operating procedures.
Find out more at the CTN Dissemination Library: http://ctndisseminationlibrary.org/display/1124.htm
Funding for this Addiction Science Made Easy project is provided by the Addiction Technology Transfer Center National Office, under the cooperative agreement from the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of SAMHSA.
Articles were written based on the following published research:
Mitchell SG, et al. The use of technology in participant tracking and study retention: Lessons learned from a Clinical Trials Network study. Substance Abuse 2015 (in press).