Background: The mobile phone-based physical activity education (mPED) trial is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluating a mobile phone-delivered physical activity intervention for women. The study includes a run-in period to maximize the internal validity of the intervention trial, but little is known about factors related to successful run-in completion, and thus about potential threats to external validity.
Objective: Objectives of this study are (1) to determine the timing of dropout during the run-in period, reasons for dropout, optimum run-in duration, and relevant run-in components, and (2) to identify predictors of failure to complete the run-in period.
Methods: A total of 318 physically inactive women met preliminary eligibility criteria and were enrolled in the study between May 2011 and April 2014. A 3-week run-in period was required prior to randomization and included using a mobile phone app and wearing a pedometer. Cross-sectional analysis identified predictors of dropout.
Results: Out of 318 participants, 108 (34.0%) dropped out prior to randomization, with poor adherence using the study equipment being the most common reason. Median failure time was 17 days into the run-in period. In univariate analyses, nonrandomized participants were younger, had lower income, were less likely to drive regularly, were less likely to have used a pedometer prior to the study, were generally less healthy, had less self-efficacy for physical activity, and reported more depressive symptoms than randomized participants. In multivariate competing risks models, not driving regularly in the past month and not having used a pedometer prior to the study were significantly associated with failure to be randomized (P=.04 and .006, respectively), controlling for age, race/ethnicity, education, shift work, and use of a study-provided mobile phone.
Conclusions: Regular driving and past pedometer use were associated with reduced dropout during the prerandomization run-in period. Understanding these characteristics is important for identifying higher-risk participants, and implementing additional help strategies may be useful for reducing dropout.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01280812; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01280812 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6XFC5wvrP).
Keywords: eligibility; mHealth; mobile phone; pedometer; randomized controlled trial; run-in period.