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Using Telepsychiatry, Clinical Trial Maintains Visit Completion Rates During Pandemic

November 16, 2020

A large community-based pragmatic clinical trial was able to maintain follow-up visit completion rates during the COVID-19 pandemic using telepsychiatry and other virtual tools, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The trial, titled “Metformin for overweight and obese children with bipolar spectrum disorders treated with second-generation antipsychotics (MOBILITY)” is comparing the effect of metformin and healthy lifestyle instruction on body mass index (BMI) and other metabolic parameters to the effect of healthy lifestyle instruction alone.

Researchers examined completion rates of visits in April and May 2020, which were conducted remotely, to completion rates for visits in April and May 2019, which were held in-person. Results were further analyzed according to visit type (month 6, month 24, other visit) and institution type (community or academic).

Of the 603 patients due for a visit in the 2020 period, 180 (29.9%) completed a remote visit, compared with 159 of 620 patients (25.6%) in the 2019 period. The completion rate for month 24 visits increased significantly, from 9.4% in 2019 to 14.9% in 2020.

“Despite the shift to remote visits, visit completion rates for this large, pragmatic study that are linked to clinical care visits did not suffer,” researchers wrote. “Making virtual visits available in clinical effectiveness research may be beneficial by decreasing patient and caregiver burden, improving data quality, and reducing cost, although this may be more easily accomplished in academic centers.”

The trial is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcome Research Institute (PCORI)

—Terri Airov


Higdon C, Blom T, Klein CC, et al. 51.23 Visit completion rates and mobility gone virtual: how a large community-based pragmatic clinical trial improved visit completion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2020 Oct. 16;[Epub ahead of print].

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