How To Do Longitudinal Remote Mobile Clinical Research

How To Do Longitudinal remote Mobile Clinical Research

Thursday, April 30th

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (CDT)

This event is being held by the UW ALACRITY Center

The Webinar Recording may be accessible at:

Helpful Resource Materials from this webinar Science and Social Distancing: How to Do Longitudinal Remote (mobile) Clinical Research

Chat questions from the Webinar:

  • Can you talk about budgeting for Facebook ads?

In general the best course of action is to set a budget and work backwards. Facebook won’t work with you on a budget until you are ready to place the ads. You are charged per viewer click, and the price per click decreases as the number of clicks increases. We typically budget based on 35 cents a click, although the average is 30 cents a click. You will get a lot of traffic, so plan big for that. If you figure that 25% of the people clicking will join your study, you will have to factor in that percent above the number you hope to recruit.

 For more information about the cost of recruiting in remote trials, please read our paper in BMJ: Innovations:

  • Can you talk about getting Brighten’s online consent process that you shared accepted by your IRB?  Some IRBs are very conservative.

Yes, IRBs will vary in their acceptance of novel consent procedures. We were able to base our procedures on those that past researchers have used for internet based clinical trials. The key thing is that you want to make sure participants understand what they are participating in and agreeing to do. This can be accomplished through simple instructions on the study landing page, and through a consent quiz, which has been used in research for decades. Sometimes you have to just engage in a back and forth with your IRB and explain that the purpose of consent is understanding what they are signing up for and there are best practices for that.

Another great resource to help educate your IRB about on-line consent is ReCODE Health, a website and workgroup of bioethicists who have been actively involved in ethical reserch in digital health.

  • Do you have advice for recruitment of teens for remote surveys when you are required to get parental consent?

I don’t think there’s an easy answer. A lot of it depends on HOW you intend to recruit teens. Are you going through an organization that would allow you to reach out to caregivers first? If you are going directly to the teens somehow, then it gets more complicated. We tend to build in a step where we reach out to caregivers for consent before then going forward with teen assent. We’ve never recruited teens straight from the web or anything like that.

  • Any recommendations for using remote tech approaches for cognitive measures/assessments for research? (not neuropsych assessments)

This is an excellent question. Researchers have been working on this for about 10 years. There are lots of platforms out there and many research groups developing tools. From our perspective they all need more validation research to prove that the results one is getting isn’t totally biased by the device hardware, internet speeds, etc. This become even more critical when taking into account things like test-retest effects, between device comparability, etc.  It becomes very hard to make comparisons, especially when there is no normative data to compare against. This is the kind of thing that teams have been working on with ACE for several years.  It’s not so much that its hard to capture the data, it’s having the knowledge and right controls in place to facilitate making comparisons to in person measures.

National Institute on Aging(NIA) has recently funded a research consortium ( to help create open, transparently validated and normed smartphone-based cognitive assessment batteries. You can check with the Mobile ToolBox team on the timeline and by when the measures will be available for researchers to deploy then in studies.

  • Any suggestions for remotely recruiting COVID+ patients?

Your best bet is to either explicitly recruit for that (ask potential participants if they are COVID+) or to partner with a clinic or testing site. Contact tracers are currently too busy. The CDC does keep a database of who has tested positive, as do departments of public health.

  • Did mTurk end up matching the US Census?  Did you have any trouble with this?

You can make sure your sample in mTurk is representative of your target population through the recruitment settings in mTurk.

As a Requester in mTURK, you are required to set a maximum number of assignments for a mTURK job (called a Human Intelligence Task or HIT). In order to ensure against overrepresentation, we have had success setting up separate HITs for each census matched racial/ethnic group that we are recruiting and setting the maximum number of assignments to the IRB approved target number for that group. Our paper in JAMA Network ( is an example of this methodology, which resulted in a sample that was closely aligned with the US Census.

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