Study: Online, direct-to-patient health research quick, inexpensive

Low costs, fast response times and better retention among participants are just a few of the benefits associated with online, direct-to-patient research efforts, according to a study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. For the study, researchers emailed more than 1,200 gout patients who were members of MediGuard.org, a free medication monitoring service, inviting them to participate in a study. The participants filled out a questionnaire and gave consent for their records to be accessed, which helped the researchers verify the accuracy of participants' answers.

"Results of this pilot study are a positive step forward in confirming the viability of the [patient-reported outcomes plus medical record] approach and the validity of patient-reported outcomes when collected in this manner," the study's authors wrote. "In this study, the findings demonstrated that patients could be recruited, screened, and enrolled directly from online patient communities for observational studies that collect patient-reported outcomes and medical record data with more than 75 percent data completeness." What's more, 37 of 38 charts collected for the study confirmed the accuracy of the participants' claims. Study

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