Using the web for recruitment, screen, tracking, data management, and quality control in a dietary assessment clinical validation trial

Contemp Clin Trials. 2010 Mar;31(2):138-46. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2009.11.005. Epub 2009 Nov 24.


Screening and tracking subjects and data management in clinical trials require significant investments in manpower that can be reduced through the use of web-based systems. To support a validation trial of various dietary assessment tools that required multiple clinic visits and eight repeats of online assessments, we developed an interactive web-based system to automate all levels of management of a biomarker-based clinical trial. The "Energetics System" was developed to support 1) the work of the study coordinator in recruiting, screening and tracking subject flow, 2) the need of the principal investigator to review study progress, and 3) continuous data analysis. The system was designed to automate web-based self-screening into the trial. It supported scheduling tasks and triggered tailored messaging for late and non-responders. For the investigators, it provided real-time status overviews on all subjects, created electronic case reports, supported data queries and prepared analytic data files. Encryption and multi-level password protection were used to insure data privacy. The system was programmed iteratively and required six months of a web programmer's time along with active team engagement. In this study the enhancement in speed and efficiency of recruitment and quality of data collection as a result of this system outweighed the initial investment. Web-based systems have the potential to streamline the process of recruitment and day-to-day management of clinical trials in addition to improving efficiency and quality. Because of their added value they should be considered for trials of moderate size or complexity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Computer Security
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Selection*
  • Quality Control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult