Posted on July 6, 2016
Updated on December 22, 2020
REDCap: Auto-Continue Surveys for Longitudinal Projects
Linking surveys together is only supported inside the same event and must be enabled for each survey you wish to link. This feature allows you to have separate survey instruments 'stringed' together to appear as though they were a single survey to the end user. This is especially useful for complex longitudinal studies where different combinations of instruments are given in separate events during a study. If enabled and this is the last survey, the selected termination option will be used.
This example is for a complex longitudinal survey project with a lot of survey instruments. There is an event grid where only certain instruments are collected for certain events.
In this project, some instruments are repeated weekly, every other week, or every month. In some cases a final instrument is added at the end.
The goal is that the participant has a seamless survey experience at each event (without having to receive multiple email invitations).
Due to previous REDCap feature limitations, the following approaches were used:
(1) Create one huge instrument and a lot of branching logic. Surveys will hide/display based on the "visit" or event the participant entered. Not ideal and prone to data entry errors.
(2) Bundle the unique combinations of surveys into single event-based surveys. This is cumbersome, hard to edit, and leads to a much more difficult analysis with unique variables for each instance of the same question.
Now, you can use the 'auto-continue' feature. Once a survey is completed, REDCap will automatically move the participant to the next designated survey in the current event. This can be configured for each survey in the "survey settings" page.
Check this box for each survey instrument if you want to automatically continue to the next instrument in its event:
Automatically start the next survey instrument after finishing this survey.
You should be careful when mixing this with automatic survey invitations as you can end up sending out emails for surveys the participant may have already completed.
To help visualize which surveys are 'auto-continue', the "Designate Instruments for My Events" page displays the auto-complete survey flow:
In this example Instrument 5 is not auto-continue. So, upon completion of survey 5 you get the standard termination message meaning the user would have to separately take Instrument 6 for event 9.
If you have any questions about this new feature and how to implement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.