Incentive delivery timing and follow-up survey completion in a prospective cohort study of injured children: a randomized experiment comparing prepaid and postpaid incentives

Morgan M. Millar, Lenora M. Olson, John M. VanBuren, Rachel Richards, Murray M. Pollack, Richard Holubkov, Robert A. Berg, Joseph A. Carcillo, Patrick S. McQuillen, Kathleen L. Meert, Peter M. Mourani, Randall S. Burd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Retaining participants over time is a frequent challenge in research studies evaluating long-term health outcomes. This study’s objective was to compare the impact of prepaid and postpaid incentives on response to a six-month follow-up survey. Methods: We conducted an experiment to compare response between participants randomized to receive either prepaid or postpaid cash card incentives within a multisite study of children under 15 years in age who were hospitalized for a serious, severe, or critical injury. Participants were parents or guardians of enrolled children. The primary outcome was survey response. We also examined whether demographic characteristics were associated with response and if incentive timing influenced the relationship between demographic characteristics and response. We evaluated whether incentive timing was associated with the number of calls needed for contact. Results: The study enrolled 427 children, and parents of 420 children were included in this analysis. Follow-up survey response did not differ according to the assigned treatment arm, with the percentage of parents responding to the survey being 68.1% for the prepaid incentive and 66.7% with the postpaid incentive. Likelihood of response varied by demographics. Spanish-speaking parents and parents with lower income and lower educational attainment were less likely to respond. Parents of Hispanic/Latino children and children with Medicaid insurance were also less likely to respond. We found no relationship between the assigned incentive treatment and the demographics of respondents compared to non-respondents. Conclusions: Prepaid and postpaid incentives can obtain similar participation in longitudinal pediatric critical care outcomes research. Incentives alone do not ensure retention of all demographic subgroups. Strategies for improving representation of hard-to-reach populations are needed to address health disparities and ensure the generalizability of studies using these results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number233
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Cohort studies
  • Methods
  • Motivation
  • Patient selection
  • Random allocation
  • Surveys and questionnaires

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