Elena Rodriguez Fisher, R.N., FNP-C, Crohnology.MD Clinical Partner
Would you like an iPad?
Offering an iPad in exchange for participating in a study that aims to improve patient-provider communication instantly gets people’s attention. But even without the iPads, recruiting 30 study participants with moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease is far from difficult.
Patients with Crohn’s may require immunosuppressive medications to help control their disease and many have had complications that have necessitated surgery. As a result, Crohn’s patients tend to be highly motivated and are often up for trying anything that may limit the symptoms of the disease or improve their quality of life. The harmful effects of assorted medications, therapies, surgeries, and impositions on personal and professional pursuits tend to foster this openness toward new approaches if there is a chance their health may be improved.
The selection criteria for our study require that participants must:
- Currently be under the care of a health care provider at the University of California, San Francisco Center for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease;
- Possess the means and be willing to communicate with their provider electronically;
- Be willing to attend clinical follow-up visit(s) with their provider during the study period;
- Be open to participating in focus groups, completing surveys and using technology to collect and integrate observations of daily living (ODLs);
- Be able to read, write and speak English; and
- Be eighteen years old or older at the time the study begins.
Potential participants received informational handouts at scheduled office visits or after contacting their providers via email. These handouts instructed them to contact the nurse practitioner at the Center for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease via email if they were interested in enrolling in the study. Most candidates quickly responded to express interest. When discussing the study, many potential participants even disclosed that they already tracked their symptoms using paper or electronic diaries, spread sheets, or timelines.
Most candidates were selected because they have a history of emailing their health care provider two or more times a year or because they expressed an interest in doing so. Most of the candidates who declined to participate in the study cited the time commitment or their current life demands as the primary reasons for refusing to participate. The selection process occurred over a 2 1/2 month period, and the study enrollment goal was reached prior to study initiation.
Study participants are genuinely excited to be involved; though, as one might expect, they do frequently ask, “When do we get our iPads?”