Newsletter December 2012

iLab meeting

Last October we had a successful iLab meeting in which Marije aan het Rot and Elise Bennik presented about ambulant measuring and self-reports. Their presentations about Experience sampling  can be found on the internal iLab website. Elise also wrote an introduction about the app she developed together with Marten Veldthuis (see below). This app allows participants to fill out questionnaires on their smartphone, but can also be adapted for use with a normal computer or laptop. The app has been found to be very convenient and efficient. Everyone who is interested in such an app for his or her study can contact Erwin Veermans or Sjoerd Sytema. The next iLab meeting will be in the spring of 2013. The exact date and topic will be announced later.

iLab app (Elise Bennik)

Last summer, together with Harriette Riese, Erwin Veermans, Sjoerd Sytema, and Jojanneke Bastiaansen the idea was born to develop a smartphone application for the iLAB. I needed this app for one of the studies in my PhD, namely the  UPPER study. We started developing a specific application for the UPPER study with possibilities for extending its use in future studies. The ROQUA infrastructure was the basis of the application with the benefit that the main structure was already present. Marten Veldthuis made changes in the ROQUA structure http://www.roqua.nl  to make it suitable for Experience sampling. During the summer Marten and I tested the application in steps by adding elements and exchanging wishes and possibilities.


Qualities of the app

  • The application looks nice on a smartphone and is user-friendly
  • The application works effectively at both Android smartphones and the I-phone
  • Text messages to notify the participant to fill out a questionnaire are automatically send to the participants at desired time points. Before the automatic protocol starts, the researcher has to enter the mobile phone number of the participant. Subsequently,  the researcher can  indicate when the measurements would have to start (on which day and time point). This also means that the text messages can be adjusted individually in order to take a participant’s lifestyle or schedule into account. Following the UPPER protocol, we sent text messages 5 times a day with a time interval of 3 hours. We also send a reminder text message after 15 minutes if a participant did not respond according the protocol.
  • It is possible to set a maximum duration of the availability of the questionnaire. In the UPPER study, participants are not able to fill out the questionnaire after 30 minutes of the first notification text message.
  • Filling out the questionnaire is very easy; participants only have to click on a link in order to fill out the questionnaire. Therefore participants get immediate access to the questionnaire without the need to enter a code or password.
  • The questions can be offered one by one (each question on a separate screen).
  • When the questionnaire is completed, the data is directly sent to ROQUA and the Electronic Patient Dossier (EPD). The researcher can immediately observe whether the participant succeeded in filling out the questionnaire. This function offers the nice opportunity to monitor the number of missing values and depending on wishes of the researcher, to send extra motivational text messages to the participant.
  • Every 24 hours, new data is available in CSV format. This format is convenient because data in this format can be imported in commonly used statistical packages like SPSS and Stata.


Experiences with the app

The application works pretty fast and is user-friendly, both for participant and researcher. Some participants experienced problems when logging in to ROQUA, or text messages were not send due to temporary connection errors, but on the whole both the participants and the researchers were positive.

iLab cupboard

An iLab cupboard has become available in the ICPE post room (“postkamer”) for storing equipment and informed consent forms. The key of this cabinet can be obtained by Harriette Riese. So if you do not want the responsibility of keeping expensive stuff in your own room or do not have enough space to store things in your own room, you can put things there. Remember that you have to reserve all equipment you want to use in your study. Reservation forms can be found on the internal iLab website (link only works if you are logged in).

iLab interview rooms

A new laptop, which can easily be connected to the internet, is available in iLab interview room 0.009 at the UCP. So both interview rooms (UCP 0.009 and 0.010) can now be used for studies that need the internet. A key that fits both rooms can be obtained at the secretary of the UCP (“de Balie”)  or at the secretary of the ICPE (key with a duck attached).

iLab laptops

Five new ambulatory data acquisition systems for monitoring heart rate and blood pressure have become available. Each system comes with a laptop. However, laptops that are not reserved for using with the ambulatory heart rate or blood pressure monitors can be reserved for other purposes as well. Reservation for these laptops can be made on the internal iLab website. Please note that programs, like E-Prime, are not yet installed on these laptops. This is the responsibility of the researcher.

External iLab website

The external iLab website will be updated in the upcoming month to become more visible for e.g. other interested researchers and reviewers of research applications. Part of the study sheets on the internal iLab website will become available on the external website. Everyone involved in these studies has received an email with a request to check whether their study information is still correct. Moreover, a list of iLab researchers and publications with a link to PubMed will become available on the external website. If you are aware of an iLab publication or study that is not listed yet or if you have other suggestions or contributions to this website, please let us know.

VAR analyses

An iLab workgroup on vector autoregressive analysis (VAR) has started. VAR analyses are suitable for analyzing individual time series. Ando Emerencia is the key player in this workgroup. He is currently busy writing a universal script to automatize the data cleaning steps for different time series formats. The ultimate goal of the workgroup is to automatize the VAR analyses. Moreover, Elske Bos gave a short course about ARIMA and VAR models for iLab researchers who are planning to do time series analyses. She is currently recording this course, so that videos of this course will become available on the internal website in January 2013.

Grant application and METc roadmap

Please note that information for grant applications (knowledge utilization) and a tutorial for writing METc protocols are available on the internal website. We would like to thank Judith Rosmalen and Robert Schoevers for their valuable  input. If you have additions to this information, do not hesitate to upload it.

Also note..

  • A conference about ambulant measuring will be held in Amsterdam (June 20-June 23)
  • Google Docs has changed into Google Drive, so the folder with iLab information can now be found in Google Drive
  • Google apps does not support Internet Explorer, so it is more convenient to use another browser (e.g. Google Chrome) when using the internal website

Thanks for reading this iLab Newsletter. We would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and an inspiring and successful 2013. The next iLab Newsletter will appear in the spring of 2013.