J Med Internet Res. 2014 16(8):e189
Méjean C, Szabo de Edelenyi F, Touvier M, Kesse-Guyot E, Julia C, Andreeva VA,
In traditional epidemiological studies, participants are likely motivated by perceived benefits, feelings of accomplishment, and belonging. No study has explored motives for participation in a Web-based cohort and the associated participant characteristics, although such information is useful for enhancing recruitment and improving cohort retention.
We aimed to evaluate the relationships between motives for participation and sociodemographic, health, and lifestyle characteristics of participants in the NutriNet-Santé Web-based cohort, designed to identify nutritional risk or protective factors for chronic diseases.
The motives for participation were assessed using a specifically developed questionnaire administered approximately 2 years after baseline. A total of 6352 completed the motives questionnaire (43.34%, 6352/15,000 randomly invited cohort participants). We studied the associations between motives (dependent variables) and individual characteristics with multivariate multinomial logistic regression models providing odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
In total, 46.45% (2951/6352) of participants reported that they would not have enrolled if the study had not been conducted on the Internet, whereas 28.75% (1826/6352) were not sure. Men (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.04-1.42), individuals aged 26-35 years (OR 1.51, 95% CI 1.20-1.91), and obese participants (OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.02-1.65) were more inclined to be motivated by the Internet aspect. Compared with younger adults and managerial staff, individuals >55 years (OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.48-0.45) and employees/manual workers were less likely motivated by the Internet aspect (OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.63-0.92). Regarding reasons for participation, 61.37% (3898/6352) reported participating to help advance public health research on chronic disease prevention; 22.24% (1413/6352) to help advance nutrition-focused research; 6.89% (438/6352) in response to the call from the media, after being encouraged by a close friend/associate, or a medical provider. Individuals >45 years (vs younger participants) were more likely (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.07-2.47), whereas overweight and obese participants (vs nonobese participants) were less likely to participate in the study for reasons related to helping public health research on chronic disease prevention (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.58-0.89; OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.46-0.84; respectively). Exclusive public funding of the study was important for 67.02% (4257/6352) of the participants. Men (OR 1.37, 95% CI 1.17-1.61) and persons >55 years (OR 1.97, 95% CI 1.57-2.47) were more likely to consider the exclusive public funding as very important.
The use of the Internet, the willingness to help advance public health research, and the study being publicly funded were key motives for participating in the Web-based NutriNet-Santé cohort. These motives differed by sociodemographic profile and obesity, yet were not associated with lifestyle or health status. These findings can help improve the retention strategies in Web-based cohorts, particularly during decisive study periods when principal exposure information is collected.