Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of online recruitment for a clinical trial of pharmacotherapy for late-life depression during COVID-19. Methods: The authors calculated the yield, defined as recruitment leading to randomization (enrollment), from provider referrals versus Facebook self-referrals; compared characteristics and drop-out rates of participants from each source; and analyzed correlations between stringency of public health restrictions and referrals from each source over time. Results: Provider referrals had a significantly higher yield (10 of 33 referrals; 30.3%) versus Facebook self-referrals (14 of 323; 4.3%) (p <0.00001). Participants self-referred from Facebook had significantly more education; otherwise, both groups had similar characteristics and drop-out rates. While public health stringency was negatively correlated with provider referrals (ρ = −0.32) and positively correlated with Facebook self-referrals (ρ = 0.39), neither association reached statistical significance. Conclusion: Online recruitment may improve access to clinical research for older depressed adults. Future studies should evaluate cost-effectiveness and potential barriers such as computer literacy.
- clinical research
- virtual care