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Long-term participant retention and engagement patterns in an app and wearable-based multinational remote digital depression study

Zhang, Yuezhou; Pratap, Abhishek; Folarin, Amos A; Sun, Shaoxiong; Cummins, Nicholas; Matcham, Faith; Vairavan, Srinivasan; ... RADAR-CNS consortium; + view all (2023) Long-term participant retention and engagement patterns in an app and wearable-based multinational remote digital depression study. NPJ Digit Med , 6 (1) , Article 25. 10.1038/s41746-023-00749-3. Green open access

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Abstract

Recent growth in digital technologies has enabled the recruitment and monitoring of large and diverse populations in remote health studies. However, the generalizability of inference drawn from remotely collected health data could be severely impacted by uneven participant engagement and attrition over the course of the study. We report findings on long-term participant retention and engagement patterns in a large multinational observational digital study for depression containing active (surveys) and passive sensor data collected via Android smartphones, and Fitbit devices from 614 participants for up to 2 years. Majority of participants (67.6%) continued to remain engaged in the study after 43 weeks. Unsupervised clustering of participants' study apps and Fitbit usage data showed 3 distinct engagement subgroups for each data stream. We found: (i) the least engaged group had the highest depression severity (4 PHQ8 points higher) across all data streams; (ii) the least engaged group (completed 4 bi-weekly surveys) took significantly longer to respond to survey notifications (3.8 h more) and were 5 years younger compared to the most engaged group (completed 20 bi-weekly surveys); and (iii) a considerable proportion (44.6%) of the participants who stopped completing surveys after 8 weeks continued to share passive Fitbit data for significantly longer (average 42 weeks). Additionally, multivariate survival models showed participants' age, ownership and brand of smartphones, and recruitment sites to be associated with retention in the study. Together these findings could inform the design of future digital health studies to enable equitable and balanced data collection from diverse populations.

Type: Article
Title: Long-term participant retention and engagement patterns in an app and wearable-based multinational remote digital depression study
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41746-023-00749-3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-023-00749-3
Language: English
Additional information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: RADAR-CNS consortium
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics > Clinical Epidemiology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10165634
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