Purpose: To examine factors influencing recruitment and retention of study participants in a longitudinal study.
Methods: After completion of a longitudinal (6 months) study of long-term indwelling urinary catheter users, three types of data were analyzed: number of problems with data entry into an online survey, number of reminders sent by study staff to participants, and number and nature of e-mail contacts between participants and study staff and among study staff regarding the study.
Conclusions: The Internet can be used effectively for research, especially involving small, specialized populations. In order to retain study subjects and obtain complete and accurate data, study staff must be closely involved and responsive to participants’ issues, and technical support staff must be readily available and invested in the research project.
Clinical Relevance: Using the Internet to reach small, special, marginalized, or geographically dispersed populations for research is becoming common. Researchers need to know how best to recruit, support, and retain participants in Internet-based studies.