Table 3

Advantages and disadvantages of participating in Internet RCTs
Advantages (n=364)^ Disadvantages (n=339)^
1. flexibility, convenience, ability to control time and place of participation 1a. less flexibility, less interpersonal connectedness and communication,
own timeA no personal contactB
convenientA can only use email to f/uC
any time/flexible time to completeB less motivation/less rewardingC
easily accessibleB no direct feedbackC
no travel/convenient placeB no interaction between participantsC
no appointmentsB no discussion about how study is goingC
access study from anywhereB disjoint - not part of the researchC
flexibility/allows for busy lives /fits into my scheduleB more personal benefits from conventional researchC
accessible at all timesC no follow-up possibilitiesC
I have the choice to participate/find out about studyC can not deviate from questions/allow for special circumstancesB
prefer mix of methodsC no one to talk to incase of adverse eventsC
1b. difficulty in understanding/being understood
can't ask questions/can't get immediate answersA
no advice about intervention or outcome reportingB
mis-interpret/don't understand question/informationB
not enough detail in answers/fixed answersB
difficult to convey messageC
unable to clarify/provide/ask for further detailsC
computer literacy an issue for someC
2. ease of use/burden 2. difficulty in use/burden
easyA a burdenC
not time consumingA too busy at work for emailsC
not a burden/not a lot required/little effort to be involvedB need to check emails regularlyC
no post or phone calls to worry aboutC takes timeC
frequently check emails/on InternetC go away with no access can't participateC
user friendlyC time on computerC
typing is easier than writingC
fun/ enjoyed participatingC
can receive the resultsC
3. Security, privacy and confidentiality 3. Security, privacy and confidentiality
anonymityB online securityC
non-invasiveC invasive (over everyday workload) C
lack of pressureC genuine study or hoaxC
can participate without others knowingC
4. participant perceived benefits to the researchers 4. participant perceived disadvantages to the researcher
decreased costB easy for participants to drop outC
greater geographic reachB participants can register twiceC
quick resultsC unaware who is participatingC
more likely to continue for longer f/uC limited research areaC
faster data entryC less controlledC
quick fixes of issues while study is underway C difficult for qualitative dataC
researchers compile data accuratelyC self selected participantsC
fewer dropoutsC research may not be seen as significant as other formsC
blind person can participateC those without computer/Internet access not able to participateC
quantitativeC
continuous analysisC
more potential participants/large number of participantsC
many advantages for researchersC
5. technical aspects 5. technical aspects
remindersB forget to complete/need remindersB
could stop when busy and return to complete it laterC personal Internet issues/connections/need access to a computerC
can use multimedia to assist C emails may be filtered as junk/spamC
unable to skip questions (may assist with data quality) C could result in too many email requests for moreC
difficult to make changes if mistake madeC
online distractions while participatingC
6. positive effect on information quality 6. negative effect on information quality
time to thinkC honesty may be compromisedB
more honest resultsC accuracy may be compromisedB
not influenced by the interviewerC subjective measuresB
data collection is consistentC little thought if rushedC
more accurate resultsC sensitive info not disclosedC
was relaxed when answering questions/no stressC need to recall answersC
easily correct mistakesC not as serious as other formsC
no answers receivedC lower data qualityC
not judgedC results not as valid as other formsC
better complianceC self reportC
forces to answer question specifically askedC superficial form of researchC
aware of answers supplied/can see questions and answersC
7. no advantagesC 7. no disadvantagesB
8. paper wastageC
9. wouldn't participate otherwiseC

^more than one response could be provided

A: most frequently reported (n>65+);

B: frequently reported (15≤n≤64);

C: least frequently reported (1≤n≤14)

Mathieu et al.

Mathieu et al. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2012 12:162   doi:10.1186/1471-2288-12-162

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