BACKGROUND: The use of digital technologies and software allows for new opportunities to communicate and engage with research participants over time. When software is coupled with automation, we can engage with research participants in a reliable and affordable manner. Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap), a browser-based software, has the capability to send automated text messages. This feature can be used to automate delivery of tailored intervention content to research participants in interventions, offering the potential to reduce costs and improve accessibility and scalability.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to describe the development and use of 2 REDCap databases to deliver automated intervention content and communication to index participants and their partners (dyads) in a 2-arm, 24-month weight management trial, Partner2Lose.
METHODS: Partner2Lose randomized individuals with overweight or obesity and cohabitating with a partner to a weight management intervention alone or with their partner. Two databases were developed to correspond to 2 study phases: one for weight loss initiation and one for weight loss maintenance and reminders. The weight loss initiation database was programmed to send participants (in both arms) and their partners (partner-assisted arm) tailored text messages during months 1-6 of the intervention to reinforce class content and support goal achievement. The weight maintenance and reminder database was programmed to send maintenance-related text messages to each participant (both arms) and their partners (partner-assisted arm) during months 7-18. It was also programmed to send text messages to all participants and partners over the course of the 24-month trial to remind them of group classes, dietary recall and physical activity tracking for assessments, and measurement visits. All text messages were delivered via Twilio and were unidirectional.
RESULTS: Five cohorts, comprising 231 couples, were consented and randomized in the Partner2Lose trial. The databases will send 53,518 automated, tailored text messages during the trial, significantly reducing the need for staff to send and manage intervention content over 24 months. The cost of text messaging will be approximately US $450. Thus far, there is a 0.004% known error rate in text message delivery.
CONCLUSIONS: Our trial automated the delivery of tailored intervention content and communication using REDCap. The approach described provides a framework that can be used in future behavioral health interventions to create an accessible, reliable, and affordable method for intervention delivery and engagement that requires minimal trial-specific resources and personnel time.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03801174; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03801174?term=NCT03801174.