Kenichiro Sato, Yoshiki Niimi, Ryoko Ihara, Kazushi Suzuki, Tatsushi Toda, Atsushi Iwata, Takeshi Iwatsubo

Jul 22, 2021
Journal of medical Internet research
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Web-based screening may be suitable for identifying individuals with presymptomatic latent diseases for recruitment to clinical studies, as such people do not often visit hospitals in the presymptomatic stage. The promotion of such online screening studies is critical to their success, although it remains uncertain how the effectiveness of such promotion can differ, depending on the different promotion methods, domains of interest, or countries of implementation. The Japanese Trial-Ready Cohort (J-TRC) web study is our ongoing online screening registry to identify individuals with presymptomatic Alzheimer disease (AD), aimed at facilitating the clinical trials for AD prevention. Within the first 9 months of its 2019 launch, the J-TRC web study recruited thousands of online participants via multiple methods of promotion, including press releases, newspaper advertisements, web advertisements, or direct email invitations. Here, we aimed to quantitatively evaluate efficacy and cost-effectiveness of each of these multimodal promotion methods. We applied the vector-autoregression model to assess the degree of contribution of each type of promotion to the following target metrics: number of daily visitors to the J-TRC website, number of daily registrants to the J-TRC web study, daily rate of registration among visitors, daily rate of eligible participants among registrants, and median age of daily registrants. The average cost-effectiveness for each promotion method was also calculated using the total cost and the coefficients in the vector-autoregression model. During the first 9 months of the reviewed period from October 31, 2019 to June 17, 2020, there were 48,334 website visitors and 4429 registrations (9.16% of 48,334 visitors), of which 3081 (69.56%) were eligible registrations. Initial press release reports and newspaper advertisements had a marked effect on increasing the number of daily visitors and daily registrants. Web advertisements significantly contributed to the increase in daily visitors (P<.001) but not to the daily registrants, and it also lowered the rate of registrations and the median age of daily registrants. Website visitors from the direct email invitation sent to other cognitive registries seem to have registered with the highest reliability. The calculated average cost-effectiveness for the initial press release was US $24.60 per visitor and US $96.10 per registrant, while the calculated average cost-effectiveness for the newspaper advertisements was US $28.60 per visitor and US $227.90 per registrant. Our multivariate time-series analysis showed that each promotion method had different features in their effect of recruiting participants to the J-TRC web study. Under the advertisement condition settings thus far, newspaper advertisements and initial press releases were the most effective promotion methods, with fair cost-effectiveness that was equivalent to earlier online studies. These results can provide important suggestions for future promotions for the recruitment of presymptomatic participants to AD clinical trials in Japan.
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