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The use of online platforms for pediatric healthcare research is timely, given the current pandemic. These platforms facilitate trial efficiency integration including electronic consent, randomization, collection of patient/family survey data, delivery of an intervention, and basic data analysis.
We created an online digital platform for a multicenter study that delivered an intervention for sleep disorders to parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). An advisory parent group provided input. Participants were randomized to receive either a sleep education pamphlet only or the sleep education pamphlet plus three quick-tips sheets and two videos that reinforced the material in the pamphlet (multimedia materials). Three measures – Family Inventory of Sleep Habits (FISH), Children’s Sleep Habits Questionnaire modified for ASD (CSHQ-ASD), and Parenting Sense of Competence (PSOC) – were completed before and after 12 weeks of sleep education.
Enrollment exceeded recruitment goals. Trial efficiency was improved, especially in data entry and automatic notification of participants related to survey completion. Most families commented favorably on the study. While study measures did not improve with treatment in either group (pamphlet or multimedia materials), parents reporting an improvement of ≥3 points in the FISH score showed a significantly improved change in the total CSHQ (P = 0.038).
Our study demonstrates the feasibility of using online research delivery platforms to support studies in ASD, and more broadly, pediatric clinical and translational research. Online platforms may increase participant inclusion in enrollment and increase convenience and safety for participants and study personnel.