Description and initial evaluation of incorporating electronic follow-up of study participants in a longstanding multisite cohort study

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2016 Sep 23;16(1):125. doi: 10.1186/s12874-016-0226-z.


Background: The objective of this study was to evaluate a pilot program that allowed Chicago field center participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study to submit follow-up information electronically (eCARDIA).

Methods: Chicago field center participants who provided email addresses were invited to complete contact information and follow-up questionnaires on medical conditions electronically in 2012-2013. Sociodemographic characteristics were compared between those who did and did not complete follow-up electronically. The number of participant contacts by CARDIA staff needed before follow-up was completed was also evaluated.

Results: Blacks and low socioeconomic position individuals were less likely to complete follow-up using the electronic questionnaire. Participants who used the electronic questionnaire for follow-up needed fewer contacts (e.g., median 1 contact compared with 3for contact information follow-up), but they also needed fewer contacts prior to eCARDIA (median 1 before and after eCARDIA).

Conclusions: Findings suggest other approaches will be needed to maintain contact and elicit follow-up information from harder-to-reach individuals.

Keywords: Cohort studies; Epidemiology; Pilot projects.