Social media can be effective in recruiting patients with atopic dermatitis

Online recruitment of atopic dermatitis patients using Facebook may be effective, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

In the 4-week non-interventional adherence study, researchers recruited adults with self-reported atopic dermatitis living near Aarhus and Copenhagen in Denmark. Participants were recruited between May and August 2017 through a website home page.

Study authors paid to advertise a website link on Facebook and sent flyers with the webpage’s QR code to patient waiting areas in 3 outpatient dermatology wards. Participants completed a questionnaire on the website as a pre-selection. They also completed the Patient-Oriented Eczema Measurement Questionnaire (POEM) via phone calls and scheduled 2 clinic visits.

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Researchers spent $ 10,064 during 53 active recruiting days on Facebook, for an average of $ 190 per day. The homepage saw 3,932 visits, of which 93% were from Facebook paid advertising, 0.3% from Google, 6% directly from the website and 0.2% from the QR code.

A total of 118 participants were considered eligible, and the cost of recruiting per eligible participant was $ 85. Of this group, 96 patients attended a first visit and were included, resulting in a cost per enrolled participant of $ 105.

In addition, 12 participants did not attend the second visit, resulting in 83 graduates and a cost of $ 121 per graduating participant. The graduates were recruited in 53 days, or 1.6 participants recruited per day.

Of the participants enrolled, 67.4% were female, 33% were between the ages of 18 and 25, and 36% were between the ages of 26 and 35. Additionally, the researchers reported that 18% had mild illness, 50% had moderate illness, and 22% had severe illness according to POEM. Using the EASI (Eczema Area and Severity Index) score, 42% were considered mild, 27% moderate and 7% severe. Additionally, 3% had fair skin and 20% had near fair skin.

The study authors noted that their study costs were likely affected by geographic limitations and 2 clinic visits. In addition, most of the participants had mild atopic dermatitis and were recruited from a hospital, including clinics and outpatient departments, usually resulting in the recruitment of patients with moderate to severe disease severity, have- they recognized.

“Online recruitment could be a useful addition to traditional recruitment to enable the recruitment of participants from the full scale of disease severity,” the investigators commented.


Ali Z, Joergensen KM, Vestergaard C, et al. Effective recruitment of clinical studies of patients with atopic dermatitis via social media. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. Published online August 9, 2021. doi: 10.1111 / jdv.17587

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