Collecting data on an inactive participant can violate their sense of privacy.
There are many reasons why a participant stops actively using a research app. Sometimes they might not remember they still have the app on their phone, they have forgotten that the app is passively collecting their data, or they are no longer interested in participating. Although participants might have initially given permission for the app to collect passive data, they might be surprised at how much the app knows about them after a long period of non-participation. This surprise can cause additional privacy concerns.
Worst Case Scenario: Inactive Participant is Unaware of Passive Data Collection
Inactivity notifications can inform and re-engage participants.
After a period of inactivity, sending participants a notification about the study can renew their interest in contributing data. This gentle nudge is also a way to be transparent with participants about what data is being actively or passively collected and what control they have over sharing this data with researchers. If the participant chooses to withdraw from the study, they can do so without compromising their privacy.
Best Practice: Inactivity Notifications
What to prepare?
Send a notification to the participant if they’ve been inactive for a while.
Decide the length of time (e.g., number of days, weeks, months, or years) to wait before reminding an inactive participant about their contributions to the research study. Consider when to send a notification to participants via the app, a text message, or email. Remember to convey gratitude for their participation.
Remind the participant about active and passive data collection.
Explain the different types of data that are being collected from the participant, how the researchers are gathering this data, how the study is using this data, and how participants can resume their contribution to the study.
Provide instructions about how to update data collection settings.
Direct participants to their app or phone settings so they can update their preferences for what data is contributed and collected. Remember to also share clear instructions about how participants can withdraw from the study if they choose to do so.