Identifying Enablers of Participant Engagement in Clinical Trials of Consumer Health Technologies: Qualitative Study of Influenza Home Testing

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Sep 14;23(9):e26869. doi: 10.2196/26869.


Background: A rise in the recent trend of self-managing health using consumer health technologies highlights the importance of efficient and successful consumer health technology trials. Trials are particularly essential to support large-scale implementations of consumer health technologies, such as smartphone-supported home tests. However, trials are generally fraught with challenges, such as inadequate enrollment, lack of fidelity to interventions, and high dropout rates. Understanding the reasons underlying individuals' participation in trials can inform the design and execution of future trials of smartphone-supported home tests.

Objective: This study aims to identify the enablers of potential participants' trial engagement for clinical trials of smartphone-supported home tests. We use influenza home testing as our instantiation of a consumer health technology subject to trial to investigate the dispositional and situational enablers that influenced trial engagement.

Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with 31 trial participants using purposive sampling to facilitate demographic diversity. The interviews included a discussion of participants' personal characteristics and external factors that enabled their trial engagement with a smartphone-supported home test for influenza. We performed both deductive and inductive thematic analyses to analyze the interview transcripts and identify enabler themes.

Results: Our thematic analyses revealed a structure of dispositional and situational enablers that enhanced trial engagement. Situationally, clinical affiliation, personal advice, promotional recruitment strategies, financial incentives, and insurance status influenced trial engagement. In addition, digital health literacy, motivation to advance medical research, personal innovativeness, altruism, curiosity, positive attitude, and potential to minimize doctors' visits were identified as the dispositional enablers for trial engagement in our study.

Conclusions: We organized the identified themes for dispositional and situational enablers of trial engagement with a smartphone-supported home test into a research framework that can guide future research as well as the trial design and execution of smartphone-supported home tests. We suggest several trial design and engagement strategies to enhance the financial and scientific viability of these trials that pave the way for advancements in patient care. Furthermore, our study also offers practical strategies to trial organizers to enhance participants' enrollment and engagement in clinical trials of these home tests.

Keywords: CHTs; Smart-HT; at-home diagnostic testing; consumer health care technologies; mobile phone; premarket clinical trials; smartphone-supported home tests; trial engagement.