Randomized controlled comparison of cross-sectional survey approaches to optimize follow-up completeness in clinical studies.
ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION:In outcome research, incomplete follow-up is a major, yet potentially correctable source of bias. Cross-sectional surveys may theoretically increase completeness of follow-up, but low response rates are reported typically. We investigated whether a pre-notification letter improved patient availability for follow-up phone interviews and thereby improved cross-sectional survey yield. METHODS:A consecutive series of vascular patients was randomly divided into a trial and a validation population. The trial population was then randomized 1:1 to one of two cross-sectional contact strategies: Strategy 1 consisted of direct contact attempts by up to 12 systematically timed phone calls, whereas Strategy 2 used a personalized pre-notification letter to arrange for scheduled phone call interviews. Response rates, average time and efforts needed per patient and overall survey duration were compared. Subsequently, trial findings were externally validated in the validation population. RESULTS:Of 728 consecutive patients, 370 were allocated to the trial population. Trial patients contacted by strategy 1 (n = 183) had a similar profile when compared to trial patients contacted by strategy 2 (n = 187). Follow-up periods following surgery (54.3 versus 53.6 months) and all-cause mortality rates (21.3% versus 18.7%) were comparable between the trial groups. Cross-sectional information on survival outcomes was almost complete after both contact strategies (99.5% versus 98.9%, P = 1.0). In 144/187 strategy 2 patients (77%) interviews were scheduled successfully necessitating significantly less contact attempts (median of 1.3 versus 2.3 per patient, P<0.0001). However, invested time per patient was similar between the groups (median of 10.1 versus 9.6 minutes), and survey strategy 1 completed earlier (median time to contact 4 versus 11 days, P<0.0001). Therefore, strategy 1 was validated in the validation population (n = 358): a low lost to follow-up rate below 1% (P = 1.0) was reconfirmed necessitating an average of 2.3 contact attempts per patient. CONCLUSIONS:Both contact strategies were equally successful in contacting almost all patients cross-sectionally. If systematically timed, direct phone calls were less complicated to organize and faster completed. Given the low time and effort per patient, outcome studies should invest in systematic follow-up surveys to minimize attrition bias.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Effective strategies for contacting and recruiting study participants are critical in conducting clinical research. In this study, we conducted two sequential randomized controlled trials of mail- and telephone-based strategies for contacting and recruiting participants, and evaluated participant-related variables' association with time to survey completion and survey completion rates. Subjects eligible for this study were survivors of acute lung injury who had been previously enrolled in a 12-month observational follow-up study evaluating their physical, cognitive and mental health outcomes, with their last study visit completed at a median of 34 months previously. METHODS:Eligible subjects were contacted to complete a new research survey as part of two randomized trials, initially using a randomized mail-based contact strategy, followed by a randomized telephone-based contact strategy for non-responders to the mail strategy. Both strategies focused on using either a personalized versus a generic approach. In addition, 18 potentially relevant subject-related variables (e.g., demographics, last known physical and mental health status) were evaluated for association with time to survey completion. RESULTS:Of 308 eligible subjects, 67% completed the survey with a median (IQR) of 3 (2, 5) contact attempts required. There was no significant difference in the time to survey completion for either randomized trial of mail- or phone-based contact strategy. Among all subject-related variables, age ?40 years and minority race were independently associated with a longer time to survey completion. CONCLUSION:We found that age ?40 years and minority race were associated with a longer time to survey completion, but personalized versus generic approaches to mail- and telephone-based contact strategies had no significant effect. Repeating both mail and telephone contact attempts was important for increasing survey completion rate. TRIAL REGISTRATION:NCT00719446.
Project description:This study assesses the ability to maintain contact with participants enrolled in an emergency contraception (EC) trial with 12 months of follow-up based on the modes of contact they provided at enrollment.Data came from a clinical trial offering women the copper intrauterine device or oral levonorgestrel for EC. A modified Poisson regression was used to assess predictors associated with the ability to contact study participants 12 months after enrollment.Data were available for 542 participants; 443 (82%) could be contacted at 12 months. Contact at 12 months was greatest for those whose preferred the method of contact was text messaging, e-mail or any (62/68; 91% contacted) and worst for the 18 who had a landline phone (only 7 contacted; 39%). After controlling for age, having an e-mail address, text messaging, language preference, type of EC chosen and insurance, preferred contact other than phone increased the likelihood of follow-up by 10% [risk ratio (RR) 1.1 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.0-1.2], while having a landline reduced a woman's likelihood of being contacted at 12 months by 50% compared to women with a contract cell (RR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-1.0).The few women with a landline for contact had poor follow-up at 1 year, while women who preferred e-mail or text had the highest rate of follow-up.Understanding how best to reduce loss to follow-up is an essential component of conducting a contraceptive clinical trial. Improved participant retention maximizes internal validity and allows for important clinical outcomes, such as pregnancy, to be assessed.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Long-term retention of research participants in studies is challenging. In research in sub-Saharan Africa, phone calls are the most frequently used method to distantly engage with participants. OBJECTIVE:We aimed to get insight into the effectiveness of phone calls to retain contact with participants and evaluated determinants of reachability. METHODS:A cross-sectional study was performed using the databases of two randomized controlled trials investigating different kinds of antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive patients. One trial finished in 2018 (study 1), and the other finished in 2015 (study 2). A random sample size of 200 participants per study was obtained. There were up to 3 phone numbers available per participant collected during the studies. Participants received a maximum of 3 phone calls on every available number on different days and at different times. Voicemails were left, and emails sent wherever possible. We documented how many calls were answered, who answered, as well as after how many attempts participants were reached. To further increase our understanding of reachability, we conducted a short questionnaire assessing factors contributing to reachability. The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (reference number M1811107). RESULTS:In our sample size of n=200 per study, study 1, with a median time of 11 months since the last visit at the research site, had a response rate of 70.5% (141/200) participants while study 2, with a median duration of 55 months since the last visit, had a response rate of 50.0% (100/200; P<.001). In study 1, 61.5% (123/200) of calls were answered directly by the participant while this was 36.0% (72/200) in study 2 (P=.003). The likelihood of reaching a participant decreased with time (odds ratio [OR] 0.73, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.84) for every year since the last face-to-face visit. Having more phone numbers per participant increased reachability (OR 2.32, 95% CI 1.24 to 4.36 for 2 phone numbers and OR 3.03, 95% CI 1.48 to 6.22 for 3 phone numbers compared with 1 number). A total of 141 of 241 reached participants responded to the questionnaire. Of the 93 participants who had changed phone numbers, 5% (50/93) had changed numbers because their phone was stolen. The most preferred method of being contacted was direct calling (128/141) with participants naming this method followed by WhatsApp (69/141). CONCLUSIONS:Time since last visit and the number of phone numbers listed were the only determinants of reachability. Longer follow-up time is accompanied with a decrease in reachability by phone while more listed phone numbers increases the likelihood that someone can be reached. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02671383; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02671383 and ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02670772; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02670772.
Project description:BACKGROUND:In heart failure (HF) patients with implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD) or cardiac resynchronisation therapy defibrillators (CRT-D), remote monitoring has been shown to result in at least non-inferior outcomes relative to in-clinic visits. We aimed to provide further evidence for this effect, and to assess whether adding telephone follow-ups to remote follow-ups influenced outcomes. METHODS:InContact was a prospective, randomised, multicentre study. Subjects receiving quarterly automated follow-up only (telemetry group) were compared to those receiving personal physician contact. Personal contact patients were further divided into those receiving automated follow-up plus a telephone call (remote+phone subgroup) or in-clinic visits only. RESULTS:Two hundred and ten patients underwent randomisation (telemetry n = 102; personal contact n = 108 [remote+phone: n = 53; visit: n = 55]). Baseline characteristics were comparable between groups and subgroups. Over 12 months, 34.8% of patients experienced deterioration of their Packer Clinical Composite Response, with no significant difference between the telemetry group and personal care (p > 0.999), remote+phone (p = 0.937) or visit (p = 0.940) patients; predefined non-inferiority criteria were met. Mortality rates (5.2% overall) were comparable between groups and subgroups (p = 0.832/p = 0.645), as were HF-hospitalisation rates (11.0% overall; p = 0.605/p = 0.851). The proportion of patients requiring ≥1 unscheduled follow-up was nominally higher in telemetry and remote+phone groups (42.2 and 45.3%) compared to the visit group (29.1%). Overall, ≥ 1 ICD therapy was delivered to 15.2% of patients. CONCLUSION:In HF patients with ICDs/CRT-Ds, quarterly remote follow-up only over 12 months was non-inferior to regular personal contact. Addition of quarterly telephone follow-ups to remote monitoring does not appear to offer any clinical advantage. TRIAL REGISTRATION:clinicaltrials.gov: NCT01200381 (retrospectively registered on September 13th 2010).
Project description:Objective. Mobile phones have been successfully used for Emergency Department (ED) patient follow-up in developed countries. Mobile phones are widely available in developing countries and may offer a similar potential for follow-up and continued care of ED patients in low and middle-income countries. The goal of this study was to determine the percentage of families with mobile phones presenting to a pediatric ED in western Kenya and rate of response to a follow-up phone call after discharge. Methods. A prospective, cross-sectional observational study of children presenting to the emergency department of a government referral hospital in Eldoret, Kenya was performed. Documentation of mobile phone access, including phone number, was recorded. If families had access, consent was obtained and families were contacted 7 days after discharge for follow-up. Results. Of 788 families, 704 (89.3%) had mobile phone access. Of those families discharged from the ED, successful follow-up was made in 83.6% of cases. Conclusions. Mobile phones are an available technology for follow-up of patients discharged from a pediatric emergency department in resource-limited western Kenya.
Project description:Retaining participants in longitudinal studies is a unique methodological challenge in many areas of investigation, and specifically for researchers aiming to identify effective interventions for women experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV). Individuals in abusive relationships are often transient and have logistical, confidentiality, and safety concerns that limit future contact. A natural experiment occurred during a large randomized clinical trial enrolling women in abusive relationships who were also heavy drinkers, which allowed for the comparison of two incentive methods to promote longitudinal retention: cash payment versus reloadable wireless bank cards. In all, 600 patients were enrolled in the overall trial, which aimed to incentivize participants using a reloadable bank card system to promote the completion of 11 weekly interactive voice response system (IVRS) phone surveys and 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up phone or in person interviews. The first 145 participants were paid with cash as a result of logistical delays in setting up the bank card system. At 12 weeks, participants receiving the bank card incentive completed significantly more IVRS phone surveys, odds ratio (OR) = 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = [0.01, 1.69]. There were no significant differences between the two groups related to satisfaction or safety and/or privacy. The bank card system delivered lower administrative burden for tracking payments for study staff. Based on these and other results, our large medical research university is implementing reloadable bank card as the preferred method of participant incentive payments.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Outpatient care is steadily changing from hospital consultations to other platforms, such as phone consultation and online virtual clinics. It is prudent to maintain quality of care with such initiatives. Currently, patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) have frequent scheduled visits, but it may be possible to optimise the frequency of hospital consultations using information from patient-reported outcome (PRO) questionnaires filled in at home (PRO-based follow-up). This approach may provide a more individually tailored follow-up based on actual needs for clinical attention. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of the quality of care, use of resources and patient outcomes associated with PRO-based follow-up in patients with CKD. METHODS:This study is a pragmatic, non-inferiority, randomised controlled trial in outpatients with CKD (Grove BE et al., Qual Life Res 27: S143, 2018). Newly referred patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) of ?40?ml/min 1.73m2 will be randomised to either: 1. PRO-based remote follow-up 2. PRO-based telephone consultation 3. Usual outpatient follow-up (control group) In the two intervention groups, a diagnosis-specific PRO questionnaire completed by the patient at home will substitute for usual outpatient follow-up visits. The PRO questionnaire will in part be used as a screening tool to identify patients in need of outpatient contact and to identify focus areas. Responses from the questionnaire will be processed according to a disease-specific algorithm and assigned green, yellow or red status according to patients' needs. The primary outcome will be loss of renal function evaluated by eGFR. Secondary outcomes are 1. Clinical outcomes, including initiation of acute dialyses, hospitalisation and mortality, 2. Utilisation of healthcare resources and 3. PRO measures, primarily quality of life (Euroqol EQ-5D) and illness perception (Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ). DISCUSSION:Benefits and possible drawbacks of the PRO-based follow-up will be evaluated. If PRO-based follow-up proves non-inferior to usual outpatient follow-up, a reorganisation of routine clinical practice in nephrology outpatient clinics may occur. Further, results may impact other patient groups with chronic conditions attending regular follow-up. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT03847766 (Retrospectively registered on January 23, 2019).
Project description:Pretreatment loss to follow-up (PTLFU) is a barrier to tuberculosis (TB) control in India's Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP). PTLFU studies have not been conducted in India's mega-cities, where patient mobility may complicate linkage to care.We collected data from patient registries for May 2015 from 22 RNTCP designated microscopy centers (DMCs) in Chennai and audited addresses and phone numbers for patients evaluated for suspected TB to understand how missing contact information may contribute to PTLFU. From November 2015 to June 2016, we audited one month of records from each of these 22 DMCs and tracked newly diagnosed smear-positive patients using RNTCP records, phone calls, and home visits. We defined PTLFU cases as including: (1) patients who did not start TB therapy within 14 days and (2) patients who started TB therapy but were lost to follow-up or died before official RNTCP registration. We used multivariate logistic regression to identify factors associated with PTLFU.In the audit of May 2015 DMC registries, out of 3696 patients evaluated for TB, 1273 (34.4%) had addresses and phone numbers that were illegible or missing. Out of 344 smear-positive patients tracked from November 2015 to June 2016, 40 (11.6%) did not start TB therapy within 14 days and 36 (10.5%) started therapy but were lost to follow-up or died before official RNTCP registration, for an overall PTLFU rate of 22.1% (95%CI: 17.8%-26.4%). Of all PTLFU patients, 55 (72.4%) were lost to follow-up and 21 (27.6%) died before starting treatment or before RNTCP registration. In the regression analysis, age?>?50 years (OR 2.9, 95%CI 1.4-6.5), history of prior TB (OR 3.9, 95%CI 2.2-7.1), evaluation at a high patient volume DMC (OR 3.2, 95% CI 1.7-6.3), and absence of legible patient contact information (OR 4.5, 95%CI 1.3-15.1) were significantly associated with PTLFU.In an Indian mega-city, we found a high PTLFU rate, especially in patients with a prior TB history, who are at greater risk for having drug-resistance. Enhancing quality of care and health system transparency is critical for improving linkage of newly diagnosed patients to TB care in urban India.
Project description:Research indicates that maintaining contact either via letter or postcard with at-risk adults following discharge from care services after a suicide attempt (SA) can reduce reattempt risk. Pilot studies have demonstrated that interventions using mobile health (mHealth) technologies are feasible in a suicide prevention setting.The aim of this study was to report three cases of patients recruited in the Suicide Intervention Assisted by Messages (SIAM) study to describe how a mobile intervention may influence follow-up.SIAM is a 2-year, multicenter randomized controlled trial conducted by the Brest University Hospital, France. Participants in the intervention group receive SIAM text messages 48 hours after discharge, then at day 8 and day 15, and months 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The study includes participants aged 18 years or older, who have attended a participating hospital for an SA, and have been discharged from the emergency department (ED) or a psychiatric unit (PU) for a stay of less than 7 days. Eligible participants are randomized between the SIAM intervention messages and a control group. In this study, we present three cases from the ongoing SIAM study that demonstrate the capability of a mobile-based brief contact intervention for triggering patient-initiated contact with a crisis support team at various time points throughout the mobile-based follow-up period.Out of the 244 patients recruited in the SIAM randomized controlled trial, three cases were selected to illustrate the impact of mHealth on suicide risk management. Participants initiated contact with the emergency crisis support service after receiving text messages up to 6 months following discharge from the hospital. Contact was initiated immediately following receipt of a text message or up to 6 days following a message.This text message-based brief contact intervention has demonstrated the potential to reconnect suicidal individuals with crisis support services while they are experiencing suicidal ideation as well as in a period after receiving messages. As follow-up phone calls over an extended period of time may not be feasible, this intervention has the potential to offer simple technological support for individuals following discharge from the ED.ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02106949; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02106949 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6wMtAFL49).
Project description:BACKGROUND: There is a need to develop sustainable and clinically effective weight management interventions that are suitable for delivery in community settings where the vast majority of overweight and obese adolescents should be treated. This study aims to evaluate the effect of additional therapeutic contact as an adjunct to the Loozit group program -- a community-based, lifestyle intervention for overweight and lower grade obesity in adolescents. The additional therapeutic contact is provided via telephone coaching and either mobile phone Short Message Service or electronic mail, or both. METHODS AND DESIGN: The study design is a two-arm randomised controlled trial that aims to recruit 168 overweight and obese 13-16 year olds (Body Mass Index z-score 1.0 to 2.5) in Sydney, Australia. Adolescents with secondary causes of obesity or significant medical illness are excluded. Participants are recruited via schools, media coverage, health professionals and several community organisations. Study arm one receives the Loozit group weight management program (G). Study arm two receives the same Loozit group weight management program plus additional therapeutic contact (G+ATC). The 'G' intervention consists of two phases. Phase 1 involves seven weekly group sessions held separately for adolescents and their parents. This is followed by phase 2 that involves a further seven group sessions held regularly, for adolescents only, until two years follow-up. Additional therapeutic contact is provided to adolescents in the 'G+ATC' study arm approximately once per fortnight during phase 2 only. Outcome measurements are assessed at 2, 12 and 24 months post-baseline and include: BMI z-score, waist z-score, metabolic profile indicators, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, eating patterns, and psychosocial well-being. DISCUSSION: The Loozit study is the first randomised controlled trial of a community-based adolescent weight management intervention to incorporate additional therapeutic contact via a combination of telephone coaching, mobile phone Short Message Service, and electronic mail. If shown to be successful, the Loozit group weight management program with additional therapeutic contact has the potential to be readily translatable to a range of health care settings. TRIAL REGISTRATION: The protocol for this study is registered with the Australian Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRNO12606000175572).