Article

A Platform for the Remote Conduct of Gene-Environment Interaction Studies

Institute of Primary Care and Public Health, Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.53). 01/2013; 8(1):e54331. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054331
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Gene-environment interaction studies offer the prospect of robust causal inference through both gene identification and instrumental variable approaches. As such they are a major and much needed development. However, conducting these studies using traditional methods, which require direct participant contact, is resource intensive. The ability to conduct gene-environment interaction studies remotely would reduce costs and increase capacity.
To develop a platform for the remote conduct of gene-environment interaction studies.
A random sample of 15,000 men and women aged 50+ years and living in Cardiff, South Wales, of whom 6,012 were estimated to have internet connectivity, were mailed inviting them to visit a web-site to join a study of successful ageing. Online consent was obtained for questionnaire completion, cognitive testing, re-contact, record linkage and genotyping. Cognitive testing was conducted using the Cardiff Cognitive Battery. Bio-sampling was randomised to blood spot, buccal cell or no request.
A heterogeneous sample of 663 (4.5% of mailed sample and 11% of internet connected sample) men and women (47% female) aged 50-87 years (median = 61 yrs) from diverse backgrounds (representing the full range of deprivation scores) was recruited. Bio-samples were donated by 70% of those agreeing to do so. Self report questionnaires and cognitive tests showed comparable distributions to those collected using face-to-face methods. Record linkage was achieved for 99.9% of participants.
This study has demonstrated that remote methods are suitable for the conduct of gene-environment interaction studies. Up-scaling these methods provides the opportunity to increase capacity for large-scale gene-environment interaction studies.

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