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Open Access Study protocol

Protocol for a randomised controlled trial examining the impact of a web-based personally controlled health management system on the uptake of influenza vaccination rates

Annie Y S Lau1*, Vitali Sintchenko123, Jacinta Crimmins4, Farah Magrabi1, Blanca Gallego1 and Enrico Coiera1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health Informatics, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

3 Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia

4 University Health Service, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:86  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-86

Published: 2 April 2012

Abstract

Background

Online social networking and personally controlled health management systems (PCHMS) offer a new opportunity for developing innovative interventions to prevent diseases of public health concern (e.g., influenza) but there are few comparative studies about patterns of use and impact of these systems.

Methods/Design

A 2010 CONSORT-compliant randomised controlled trial with a two-group parallel design will assess the efficacy of a web-based PCHMS called Healthy.me in facilitating the uptake of influenza vaccine amongst university students and staff. Eligible participants are randomised either to obtain access to Healthy.me or a 6-month waitlist. Participants complete pre-study, post-study and monthly surveys about their health and utilisation of health services. A post-study clinical audit will be conducted to validate self-reports about influenza vaccination and visits to the university health service due to influenza-like illness (ILI) amongst a subset of participants. 600 participants older than 18 years with monthly access to the Internet and email will be recruited. Participants who (i) discontinue the online registration process; (ii) report obtaining an influenza vaccination in 2010 before the commencement of the study; or (iii) report being influenced by other participants to undertake influenza vaccination will be excluded from analysis. The primary outcome measure is the number of participants obtaining influenza vaccination during the study. Secondary outcome measures include: number of participants (i) experiencing ILI symptoms, (ii) absent from or experiencing impairment in work or study due to ILI symptoms, (iii) using health services or medications due to ILI symptoms; (iv) expressing positive or negative attitudes or experiences towards influenza vaccination, via their reasons of receiving (or not receiving) influenza vaccine; and (v) their patterns of usage of Healthy.me (e.g., frequency and timing of hits, duration of access, uptake of specific functions).

Discussion

This study will provide new insights about the utility of online social networking and PCHMS for public health and health promotion. It will help to assess whether a web-based PCHMS, with connectivity to a health service provider, containing information and self-management tools, can improve the uptake of preventive health services amongst university students and staff.

Trial registration

ACTRN12610000386033 (Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry)

Keywords:
Randomised controlled trial; Influenza; Health promotion; Vaccination; Personally controlled health record; Self-management; Internet