An Automated Text-Messaging Platform for Enhanced Retention and Data Collection in a Longitudinal Birth Cohort: Cohort Management Platform Analysis.
BACKGROUND: Traditional methods for recruiting and maintaining contact with participants in cohort studies include print-based correspondence, which can be unidirectional, labor intensive, and slow. Leveraging technology can substantially enhance communication, maintain engagement of study participants in cohort studies, and facilitate data collection on a range of outcomes. OBJECTIVE: This paper provides an overview of the development process and design of a cohort management platform (CMP) used in the Newborn Epigenetic STudy (NEST), a large longitudinal birth cohort study. METHODS: The platform uses short message service (SMS) text messaging to facilitate interactive communication with participants; it also semiautomatically performs many recruitment and retention procedures typically completed by research assistants over the course of multiple study follow-up visits. RESULTS: Since February 2016, 302 participants have consented to enrollment in the platform and 162 have enrolled with active engagement in the system. Daily reminders are being used to help improve adherence to the study's accelerometer wear protocol. At the time of this report, 213 participants in our follow-up study who were also registered to use the CMP were eligible for the accelerometer protocol. Preliminary data show that texters (138/213, 64.8%), when compared to nontexters (75/213, 35.2%), had significantly longer average accelerometer-wearing hours (165.6 hours, SD 56.5, vs 145.3 hours, SD 58.5, P=.01) when instructed to wear the devices for 1 full week. CONCLUSIONS: This platform can serve as a model for enhancing communication and engagement with longitudinal study cohorts, especially those involved in studies assessing environmental exposures.
Barry, CM; Sabhlok, A; Saba, VC; Majors, AD; Schechter, JC; Levine, EL; Streicher, M; Bennett, GG; Kollins, SH; Fuemmeler, BF
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