What do Patients Want When Interacting with eDiaries? A 3-Part Series


This 3-part series presents results from a study of patient preferences regarding electronic Clinical Outcome Assessments in clinical trials. Part 1 covers how sponsors can improve the study design and logistics of electronic diaries.

Learnings from a study of patient preferences regarding electronic Clinical Outcome Assessments (eCOA) in Clinical Trials

  Much research has been done to document patients’ preferences for electronic diaries (eDiary) over the traditional pen-and-paper approach. However, industry has had little insight into how patients prefer to interact with eCOA. This series presents the findings from a study conducted to understand what patients want when completing eCOA assessments during clinical trials.   Survey data from 408 patients with osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression, or type II diabetes were collected in the following categories: patient engagement, compliance, ease of use, and feedback on specific eCOA features. In total, 132 different questions were asked. The learnings indicate that even very simple changes in study design and user interface can go a long way toward adding a more human quality to the use of eCOA and promoting patient engagement during clinical trials.  

Part 1:  Improving Study Design and Logistics

  • Patients slightly prefer evening over morning for eDiary completion, but rate both windows of the day quite favorably. Shorter windows of completion are preferable.

  • Patients are willing to engage in trials using daily eDiaries for considerable periods of time, including 5 years or longer, but prefer studies of 1-2 years or less in duration.

  • Patients indicate the strongest preference for having an electronic device provided to them, rather than using their own smartphone device for participation in a clinical trial.

  • Most patients think it would be helpful to have audible alarms on a study-provided eCOA device to remind them to record their disease symptoms or take their medication.

  • Most patients express interest in using electronic methods (e.g., smartphone app, email, text messages) to interact more with their physician between clinic visits to help manage and treat their disease.

Check back next week for Part 2 of the series where we’ll review how sponsors can Improve eCOA User Interface to help patient engagement during clinical trials.

Susan Dallabrida, PhD and Laura Khurana, MPH, ERT

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