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Developing and evaluating tailored dissemination strategies for different audiences: What have we learned from dissemination science during COVID-19?

Background:

My Kidneys My Health is an online self-management tool for early chronic kidney disease (CKD) developed by patients, for patients, launched March 2021. The aim of the tool is to support self-management and slow disease progression. A dissemination plan for the website was co-designed with patient partners, researchers, allied health professionals, and nephrologists based on the Knowledge Translation Planning Template (2019). This study aimed to demonstrate how Google Analytics can inform dissemination strategies based on website performance, and how the data can inform future strategies. 

Methods:

We used Google Analytics to evaluate the My Kidneys My Health website during the initial launch period (March 11 to December 31, 2021). Dissemination strategies were grouped into three categories: Social (social media), Referral (integrated links on other websites), and Other (activities that cannot be directly attributed to users, including newsletters, presentations, and conferences). Descriptive statistics were used to understand the reach (i.e., users, location, access through platform) and engagement (i.e., behaviours through bounce rate, page views, session durations) based on traffic source. Activities were plotted against the timeline of website usage to identify trends. 

Results:

Dissemination activities included 39 Social posts with over 1,000 engagements, 6 Referral links, and 16 Other activities. Of the 2,657 unique users, 12% reached the website through a Social source, 12% through a Referral Source, and 76% through unknown strategies which may include Other activities (50% through direct URL entry, 26% through search engine). The platforms that drove the most users overall included Facebook (19.4%), Twitter (12.7%), and the University of Calgary website (12.3%). Through comparing the timing of activities and user acquisition, a combination of initial launch activities and the CTV News press release can be attributed to the largest spikes in users, followed by a decline after one month. The CKD Pathway referral link (www.ckdpathway.ca) appears to be an effective method of gaining regular users and continues to bring in the same average number of users. 

Users from Referral and Social sources were the most engaged with the website, with lowest average bounce rates, over 4 pages per session, and over 3-minute session durations. Users from direct traffic sources had the lowest engagement level in these three variables, while organic search users had high bounce rates but also high session engagement. After the Homepage, the Food and Diet page and the Common Foods page had the highest numbers of pageviews (11% and 8%, respectively), which correspond with the sections of the website most highlighted in our dissemination strategies. 

Conclusion:

Google Analytics can support process evaluation measures by tracking website use and engagement. Results demonstrate the effectiveness of continuous strategies that reach multiple audiences and their impact on reach and engagement of users. Limitations include the inability to specify direct traffic sources, attribute user spikes with all strategies, and understand who is using the website. A survey of users is planned to enhance our understanding of My Kidneys My Health use and to address identified gaps in dissemination strategies.

Sabrina Jassemi poster

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