BACKGROUND - The Internet and other eHealth technologies offer a platform for improving the dissemination and accessibility of psychoeducational programs for youth with chronic illness. However, little is known about the recruitment process and yield of diverse samples in Internet research with youth who have a chronic illness.
OBJECTIVE - The purpose of this study was to compare the demographic and clinical characteristics of youth with Type 1 diabetes on recruitment, participation, and satisfaction with 2 eHealth psychoeducational programs.
METHODS - Youth with Type 1 diabetes from 4 sites in the United States were invited to participate (N=510) with 320 eligible youth consenting (mean age=12.3, SD 1.1; 55.3% female; 65.2% white; and mean A1C=8.3, SD 1.5). Data for this secondary analysis included demographic information (age, race/ethnicity, and income), depressive symptoms, and recruitment rates, including those who refused at point of contact (22.0%), passive refusers who consented but did not participate (15.3%), and those who enrolled (62.7%). Participation (80% lessons completed) and a satisfaction survey (ie, how helpful, enjoyable) were also analyzed. Chi-square or analysis of variance (ANOVA) analyses were used.
RESULTS - There were significant differences in recruitment rates by income and race/ethnicity such that black, Hispanic, or mixed race/ethnicity and low-income youth were more likely to refuse passively compared to white and higher-income youth who were more likely to enroll (P<.001). Participation in program sessions was high, with 78.1% of youth completing at least 4 of 5 sessions. There were no significant differences in participation by program, age, gender, or race/ethnicity. Low-income youth were less likely to participate (P=.002). Satisfaction in both programs was also high (3.9 of 5). There were significant gender, race/ethnicity, and income differences, in that girls (P=.001), black, Hispanic, or mixed race/ethnicity youth (P=.02), and low-income youth (P=.02) reported higher satisfaction. There were no differences in satisfaction by program or age.
CONCLUSIONS - Results indicate that black, Hispanic, or mixed race/ethnicity youth and low-income youth with Type 1 diabetes are less likely to enroll in Internet-based research than white and higher-income youth; thus, creative recruitment approaches are needed. Low-income youth were less likely to participate, possibly due to access. However, once enrolled, youth of diverse race/ethnicity and low-income youth with Type 1 diabetes were as highly satisfied with the eHealth programs as white youth and those with higher income. Results suggest that eHealth programs have the potential to reach diverse youth and be appealing to them.