Research Areas


CTSA UL1TR001878

mPeer2Peer: Evaluating incentive structures for a novel implementation of peer to peer recruitment using mobile devices

Principal Investigator: Nalaka Gooneratne, MD, MSc

Recruitment of study participants, especially from minority populations, is a major impediment to research study completion. Peer-to-peer recruitment, in which already consented study participants reach out to their circle of friends, family and acquaintances to recommend participation in a specific research study, has the potential to address this challenge by overcoming common barriers to research participation, such as mistrust of the medical research establishment. Furthermore, individuals are likely to know, through informal discussion, if a peer has the disease of interest, further enhancing the cost-effectiveness of this approach.

We propose developing a smartphone app, mPeer2Peer, that uses text-based methods, which will allow for granular tracking of referrals via a central database. The app will be based off an existing ITMAT mHealth app (mPhenomics) thereby reducing costs, and mPeer2Peer will be implemented in an ongoing study to meet the one-year project timeline.  Furthermore, we propose evaluating different incentive structures to assess their efficacy and cost-effectiveness. The resultant technology and research findings have the potential to significantly facilitate recruitment, especially of minority or underrepresented groups, using this innovative, smartphone-based solution.