Piece by Piece: Making Health Connections

Electronic Diary Q&A

What is an ED? What does the ED do?

The ED (Electronic Diary) is a Palm Pilot that contains a special program for this study.  The ED "beeps" participants randomly 5 - 7 times throughout the day, prompting them to complete a short interview on the ED about their mood, cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug use, activities, and surroundings. 

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How much time will this study require?

This project involves a 30-minute training session followed by 7 days of carrying the ED, and a 30-minute follow-up interview at the end of the week.  While carrying the ED, participants will: answer questions when prompted and initiate entries when appropriate.  Participants will meet with research staff at our UIC research office, a college/university location, or a community center.   If you move away from Chicago after the first year, we will conduct these sessions over the phone and mail the ED to you.

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How often will participants be asked to carry the ED?

Some participants will be asked to carry the ED for a one-week period now, and for an additional one-week period a year from now.  We may ask you to complete a third week with the ED, approximately 2 years from now.

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Will the ED beep me during my daily activities?

Yes, the ED will beep you doing your daily activities.  If you are unable to respond, such as driving, taking a test, or during work that may not allow you to answer, the ED can be “suspended” for up to 3 hours at a time. During this “suspend,” the ED will not beep.  The suspend function can also be used during other important events such as: religious ceremonies, team competitions, meetings, etc.  Interviews can also be delayed if you are beeped at an inconvenient time.

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Will I be paid for participating in the study?

Yes. You will receive a cash incentive for successfully completing your week-long interaction with ED, completing the training and the end-of-week interview, and returning the device.

  • You will receive $70 for the first week, and $80 for the second week (about one year from now).
  • You will receive an additional $20 if you respond to at least 24 prompts (beeps) in the 7 day period and the number of prompts that you respond to is at least 80% of the total ED prompts. In other words, you must leave the device on during most of your waking hours and respond to most of the prompts, consistent with the training provided by study staff.
  • If you do not interact with the ED as instructed during training, you may be offered a second chance to carry the ED.  If you do not wish to do it again, you will not be paid.
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What if I lose or break the ED? Am I penalized?

No. We do ask participants to keep the ED with them at all times in order to hear the beeps, respond to interviews, and minimize the likelihood of losing or misplacing the ED.  However if the ED is lost or breaks during the time that a participant has the ED, then we ask that they notify the research team immediately at our toll-free hotline (866-413-8824).

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What if I move away from the Chicago area ? May I continue to carry the ED?

If you move away from Chicago after the first year with no plans to return during the year, we will conduct the interview sessions over the phone and mail the ED to you.  Upon return of the ED and successful completion of the prompts, we will mail you your check. 

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