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Feasibility and lessons learned on remote trial implementation from TestBoston, a fully remote, longitudinal, large-scale COVID-19 surveillance study

Authors: Sarah A Naz-McLean; Andrew J. Kim; Andrew Zimmer; Hannah Laibinis; Jen Lapan; Paul Tyman; Jessica Hung; +11 Authors

Feasibility and lessons learned on remote trial implementation from TestBoston, a fully remote, longitudinal, large-scale COVID-19 surveillance study

Abstract

ABSTRACTImportanceRemote clinical trials may reduce barriers to research engagement resulting in more representative samples. A critical evaluation of this approach is imperative to optimize this paradigm shift in research.ObjectiveTo assess design and implementation factors required to maximize enrollment and retention in a fully remote, longitudinal COVID-19 testing study.DesignFully remote longitudinal study launched in October 2020 and ongoing; Study data reported through July 2021.SettingBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston MAParticipantsAdults, 18 years or older, within 45 miles of Boston, MA.InterventionMonthly and “on-demand” at-home SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and antibody testing using nasal swab and dried blood spot self-collection kits and electronic surveys to assess symptoms and risk factors for COVID-19.Main OutcomesEnrollment, retention, and lessons learned.ResultsBetween October 2020 and January 2021, we enrolled 10,289 participants reflective of Massachusetts census data. Mean age was 47 years (range 18-93), 5855 (56.9%) were assigned female sex at birth, 7181(69.8%) reported being White non-Hispanic, 952 (9.3%) Hispanic/Latinx, 925 (9.0%) Black, 889 (8.6%) Asian, and 342 (3.3%) other and/or more than one race. Lower initial enrollment among Black and Hispanic/Latinx individuals required an adaptive approach, leveraging connections to the medical system, coupled with community partnerships to ensure a representative cohort. Longitudinal retention was higher among participants who were White non-Hispanic, older, working remotely, and with lower socioeconomic vulnerability. Considerable infrastructure, including a dedicated participant support team and robust technology platforms was required to reduce barriers to enrollment, promote retention, ensure scientific rigor, improve data quality, and enable an adaptive study design to increase real-world accessibility.ConclusionsThe decentralization of clinical trials through remote models offers tremendous potential to engage representative cohorts, scale biomedical research, and promote accessibility by reducing barriers common in traditional trial design. Our model highlights the critical role that hospital-community partnerships play in remote recruitment, and the work still needed to ensure representative enrollment. Barriers and burdens within remote trials may be experienced disproportionately across demographic groups. To maximize engagement and retention, researchers should prioritize intensive participant support, investment in technologic infrastructure and an adaptive approach to maximize engagement and retention.Trial RegistrationN/AKey PointsQuestionLongitudinal clinical studies typically rely on in-person interactions to support recruitment, retention, and implementation. We define factors that promote demographically representative recruitment and retention through implementation of a fully remote COVID-19 study.FindingsRemote trial models can reduce barriers to research participation and engage representative cohorts. Recruitment was strengthened by leveraging the medical system. Implementation highlighted participant burdens unique to this model, underscoring the need for a significant participant support team, robust technological infrastructure, and an adaptive, iterative approach.MeaningAs remote trials become more common following the COVID-19 pandemic, methodologies to ensure accessibility, representation, and efficiency are crucial.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: Gerontology Clinical trial Longitudinal study Data quality Scale (social sciences) Cohort Vulnerability Psychology Socioeconomic status Rigour

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7. Brewer LC, Pasha M, Seele P, Penheiter S, White R, Willis F, et al. Overcoming Historical Barriers: Enhancing Positive Perceptions of Medical Research Among African Americans Through a Conference-Based Workshop. J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Jun 14;

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    Average
  • citations
    This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    2
    popularity
    This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
    Average
    influence
    This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    Average
    impulse
    This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
    Average
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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
2
Average
Average
Average
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