JMIR research protocols 2018 02 167(2) e11 doi 10.2196/resprot.9090
Cancer Care Ontario’s Screening Activity Report (SAR) is an online audit and feedback tool designed to help primary care physicians in Ontario, Canada, identify patients who are overdue for cancer screening or have abnormal results requiring follow-up. Use of the SAR is associated with increased screening rates. To encourage SAR use, Cancer Care Ontario sends monthly emails to registered primary care physicians announcing that updated data are available. However, analytics reveal that 50% of email recipients do not open the email and less than 7% click the embedded link to log in to their report.
The goal of the study is to determine whether rewritten emails result in increased log-ins. This manuscript describes how different user- and theory-informed messages intended to improve the impact of the monthly emails will be experimentally tested and how a process evaluation will explore why and how any effects observed were (or were not) achieved.
A user-centered approach was used to rewrite the content of the monthly email, including messages operationalizing 3 behavior change techniques: anticipated regret, material incentive (behavior), and problem solving. A pragmatic, 2x2x2 factorial experiment within a multiphase optimization strategy will test the redesigned emails with an embedded qualitative process evaluation to understand how and why the emails may or may not have worked. Trial outcomes will be ascertained using routinely collected administrative data. Physicians will be recruited for semistructured interviews using convenience and snowball sampling.
As of April 2017, 5576 primary care physicians across the province of Ontario, Canada, had voluntarily registered for the SAR, and in so doing, signed up to receive the monthly email updates. From May to August 2017 participants received the redesigned monthly emails with content specific to their allocated experimental condition prompting use of the SAR. We have not yet begun analyses.
This study will inform how to communicate effectively with primary care providers by email and identify which behavior change techniques tested are most effective at encouraging engagement with an audit and feedback report.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03124316; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03124316 (Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6w2MqDWGu).