BACKGROUND: Trials aimed at preventing cognitive decline through cognitive stimulation among those with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment are of significant importance in delaying the onset of dementia and reducing dementia prevalence. One challenge in these prevention trials is sample recruitment bias. Those willing to volunteer for these trials could be socially active, in relatively good health, and have high educational levels and cognitive function. These participants' characteristics could reduce the generalizability of study results and, more importantly, mask trial effects. We developed a randomized controlled trial to examine whether conversation-based cognitive stimulation delivered through personal computers, a webcam and the internet would have a positive effect on cognitive function among older adults with normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment. To examine the selectivity of samples, we conducted a mass mail-in survey distribution among community-dwelling older adults, assessing factors associated with a willingness to participate in the trial.
METHODS: Two thousand mail-in surveys were distributed to retirement communities in order to collect data on demographics, the nature and frequency of social activities, personal computer use and additional health-related variables, and interest in the prevention study. We also asked for their contact information if they were interested in being contacted as potential participants in the trial.
RESULTS: Of 1,102 surveys returned (55.1% response rate), 983 surveys had complete data for all the variables of interest. Among them, 309 showed interest in the study and provided their contact information (operationally defined as the committed with interest group), 74 provided contact information without interest in the study (committed without interest group), 66 showed interest, but provided no contact information (interest only group), and 534 showed no interest and provided no contact information (no interest group). Compared with the no interest group, the committed with interest group were more likely to be personal computer users (odds ratio (OR) = 2.78), physically active (OR = 1.03) and had higher levels of loneliness (OR = 1.16).
CONCLUSION: Increasing potential participants' familiarity with a personal computer and the internet before trial recruitment could increase participation rates and improve the generalizability of future studies of this type.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial was registered on 29 March 2012 at ClinicalTirals.gov (ID number NCT01571427).
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Funding sources: R01AG033581, P30AG008017, P30AG024978, and R01AG024059 from National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services.
Dodge, Hiroko H.; Katsumata, Yuriko; Zhu, Jian; Mattek, Nora; Bowman, Molly; Gregor, Mattie; Wild, Katherine; and Kaye, Jeffrey A, "Characteristics Associated with Willingness to Participate in a Randomized Controlled Behavioral Clinical Trial Using Home-Based Personal Computers and a Webcam" (2014). Biostatistics Faculty Publications. 12.