Professor John Powell of the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University and Professor Kathy Griffiths of the Research School of Population Health at The Australian National University (ANU) and their teams are undertaking a research project to evaluate an online website designed to improve everyday social wellbeing.
The Social WellBeing (SocWell) Study
The purpose of the study is to find out whether a website training programme can assist people to feel more comfortable in social situations. First we will ask you to complete a short series of screening questions designed to work out if you are eligible for the study. If you are eligible you will be randomly assigned by a computer program to receive the training program either immediately OR in 12 months. To help us to work out the effect of the website over time we will ask you to complete a 20 minute online survey before and at several time points over the year after you complete the program. We will also look at which parts of the training program you use.
Approximately 2000 people who see our advertisement online and volunteer for the study will participate in the study. To participate in the study you must be at least 18 years old, be a resident of the United Kingdom and be willing to provide a working email address and mobile phone number (to receive email and text messages including reminders about the training program and the study).
The findings from our study may be published in scientific journals, books or other publications. Once the study findings have been reviewed and published in the medical literature we will place a summary of the findings on the study website for the information of interested participants. However, anything we publish will not contain any information that could identify you.
This research is funded by the United Kingdom MQ Charity.
Participation is voluntary. If you sign up for the study, you are free to leave the study at any time without giving a reason and without any consequence. If you do withdraw, the data collected up to that point will be retained in the study. If you do decide to leave the study we will send you an email to confirm that you have withdrawn and inviting you to provide feedback, should you wish, about why you withdrew.
What is involved? First you will be asked to complete some screening questions to determine if you are eligible for the study. This will take about 5 minutes. If you are eligible for the study we will ask you to complete a 20-minute online survey. You will then be advised by email whether you have been allocated to receive the online training program immediately or after 12 months.
The training program involves 5 modules and we recommend people make time to do one module a week. Each module takes 20-30 minutes to complete. Six weeks after starting the training program you will receive an email asking you to answer a 20-minute online survey. We will also ask you to complete the 20-minute online survey after 3, 6 and 12 months. That is all you would have to do - the research just involves using a website and filling in online questionnaires. You do not have to travel anywhere or speak to anyone. Contacts from the researchers will be made by email or text message. You will receive approximately 1 text or email each week if you are in the group completing the training program immediately and a text message and up to three reminder emails to remind you to complete each follow-up survey. We will also ask a few of the research participants (about 20 people) to volunteer for an extra telephone interview to tell us more about their experiences - we will ask you whether you want to volunteer for this or not.
We do not anticipate that this task will cause you any distress. However, if you do experience distress in this research project, please contact the research team by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on 0808 1560017. If you have urgent health concerns then the NHS helpline is available 24 hours a day (dial 111 for England and Scotland or NHS Direct for Wales on 0845 46 47).
We expect that this research will increase our understanding of how to help people who feel awkward in social situations to improve their lives. You may not experience any personal benefit. However, participation may assist some participants to cope better in social situations.
Any identifying information that you provide will be stored separately from your survey responses. Your survey data will be identified only by a Study Identification (ID) number. Your confidentiality will be protected as far as allowed by law. Publications arising from this research will not include your name or any personally identifying information about you.
Data will be collected on secure servers at the ANU and transferred securely using encryption to Oxford University servers. In addition, the data will be stored on the researchers' password-protected computers. Storage in a secure archive will be for at least 15 years following publication. Access to the data will be restricted to project staff and authorised IT personnel using appropriate access control mechanisms.
Should you have any enquiries about the research, please email Professor John Powell or members of the research team at: email@example.com.
If you have a concern about any aspect of this project, please contact Professor John Powell and members of the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org who will do their best to answer your query. If you remain unhappy or wish to make a formal complaint, please contact the chair of the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Oxford (using the contact details below) or the Ethics Manager at the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee who will seek to resolve the matter in a reasonably expeditious manner.
The ethical aspects of this research have been approved by the Research Ethics Committee at the University of Oxford (Ref: MS-IDREC-C1-2015-167) and the ANU Human Research Ethics Committee (Protocol number: 2015-229). If you have any concerns or complaints about how this research has been conducted, please contact:
Chair, Medical Sciences Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee
University of Oxford
Wellington Square, Oxford OX1 2JD
The ANU Human Research Ethics Committee
The Australian National University
Telephone: +61 2 6125 3427