Background: Web-based surveys provide an efficient means to track clinical outcomes over time without the use of clinician time for additional paperwork. Our purpose was to determine the feasibility of utilizing web-based surveys to capture rehabilitation compliance and clinical outcomes among postoperative orthopedic patients. The study hypotheses were that (a) recruitment rate would be high (> 90%), (b) patients receiving surveys every two weeks would demonstrate higher response rates than patients that receive surveys every four weeks, and (c) response rates would decrease over time.

Methods: The study design involved a longitudinal cohort. Surgical knee patients were recruited for study participation during their first post-operative visit (n = 59, 34.9 ± 12.0 years of age). Patients with Internet access, an available email address and willingness to participate were counter-balanced into groups to receive surveys either every two or four weeks for 24 weeks post-surgery. The surveys included questions related to rehabilitation and questions from standard patient-reported outcome measures. Outcome measures included recruitment rate (participants consented/patients approached), eligibility (participants with email/participants consented), willingness (willing participants/participants eligible), and response rate (percentage of surveys completed by willing participants).

Results: Fifty-nine patients were approached regarding participation. Recruitment rate was 98% (n = 58). Eligibility was 95% (n = 55), and willingness was 91% (n = 50). The average response rate was 42% across both groups. There was no difference in the median response rates between the two-week (50%, range 0–100%) and four-week groups (33%, range 0–100%; p = 0.55).

Conclusions: Although patients report being willing and able to participate in a web-based survey, response rates failed to exceed 50% in both the two-week and four-week groups. Furthermore, response rates began to decrease after the first three months postoperatively. Therefore, supplementary data collection procedures may be necessary to meet established research quality standards.

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Published in Digital Health, v. 2, p. 1-10.

© The Author(s) 2016

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This project did utilize resources supported by the National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, through Grant 8UL1TR000117-02.

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The online supplementary material is available at http://dhj.sagepub.com/supplemental.

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Supplementary Material