BACKGROUND: We recently conducted a small randomized controlled trial (RCT) aiming to examine the effectiveness of videoconferencing-based treatment of alcohol use disorders in a real-life setting. The patient and participation rates were lower than anticipated.
OBJECTIVE: The objectives of our study were (1) to examine differences between participants and nonparticipants, and (2) to examine the characteristics of nonparticipants and their reported reasons for not participating.
METHODS: First, we analyzed nonparticipation through a comparative analysis of participants and nonparticipants using data from a clinical database, covering all patients starting treatment at the clinic. Second, on the basis of data from an anonymous questionnaire filled out by nonparticipants, we analyzed barriers to participating and the descriptive sociodemographics of nonparticipants who reported technical barriers versus those who did not.
RESULTS: Of 128 consecutive patients starting treatment during the study period, we found no significant differences between participants (n=71) and nonparticipants (n=51) according to sociodemographics, alcohol measures, and composite scores. Of 51 nonparticipants, 43 filled out the questionnaire with reasons for not participating. We derived 2 categories of barriers from the questionnaire: scientific barriers, which were barriers to the scientific study in general (n=6), and technical barriers, which were barriers to using a laptop or videoconferencing specifically (n=27). We found no significant differences in sociodemographics between nonparticipants who reported technical barriers to participating in the study and those who did not note technical barriers. A total of 13 patients elaborated on technical barriers, and 9 patients found videoconferencing impersonal, preferred personal contact, and would rather attend face-to-face treatment at the clinic.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient barriers to participating in the RCT were mainly concerned with the technology. There were no significant differences between participants and nonparticipants, nor between nonparticipants who noted technical barriers to participating and those who did not. If a similar study is to be conducted or the solution is to be upscaled and implemented, attention should be given to the user friendliness of the technical equipment and the recruitment process, preparing the patients by emphasizing the information given to them about the technical equipment and its advantages.