Online recruitment of patients with atopic dermatitis using Facebook may be effective, according to study findings published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

In the 4-week noninterventional adherence study, investigators recruited adults with self-reported atopic dermatitis living near Aarhus and Copenhagen in Denmark. Participants were recruited between May and August 2017 via a website homepage.

The study authors paid to advertise a link to the website on Facebook and sent flyers with the webpage QR code to patient waiting areas at 3 outpatient dermatologic departments. Participants completed a questionnaire through the website as pre-screening. They also completed the Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM) questionnaire via telephone calls and had 2 in-clinic visits scheduled.


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The researchers spent $10,064 during 53 active recruiting days on Facebook, for an average of $190 per day. The homepage had 3932 visits, of which 93% were from the paid Facebook advertising, 0.3% from Google, 6% directly from the website, and 0.2% from the QR code.

A total of 118 participants were considered eligible, and the cost of recruitment per eligible participant was $85. Of this group, 96 patients attended a first visit and were included, resulting in a cost per enrolled participant of $105.

Furthermore, 12 participants did not attend the second visit, which resulted in 83 completers and a cost of $121 per completing participant. The completers were recruited in 53 days leading to 1.6 participants recruited per day.

Of the enrolled participants, 67.4% were women, 33% were aged 18 to 25 years, and 36% were aged 26 to 35 years. Also, the researchers reported that 18% had mild disease, 50% had moderate disease, and 22% had severe disease according to POEM. With use of the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score, 42% were considered mild, 27% moderate, and 7% severe. In addition, 3% had clear skin, and 20% had almost clear skin.

The study authors noted that their study costs were probably affected by geographic limitations and 2 in-clinic visits. Also, most participants had mild atopic dermatitis, and recruitment at a hospital, including outpatient clinics and wards, which generally results in recruitment of patients with moderate to severe disease severity, they acknowledged.

“Online recruitment could be a worthy supplement to traditional recruitment to allow recruitment of participants from the entire disease severity scale,” the investigators commented.

Reference

Ali Z, Joergensen KM, Vestergaard C, et al. Effective clinical study recruitment of patients with atopic dermatitis through social media. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Published online August 9, 2021. doi:10.1111/jdv.17587