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Rehn M.,Public Health Agency of Sweden Previously Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control | Rehn M.,U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention | Carnahan A.,Public Health Agency of Sweden Previously Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control | Merk H.,Public Health Agency of Sweden Previously Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control | And 5 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2014

To complement traditional influenza surveillance with data on disease occurrence not only among care-seeking individuals, the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (SMI) has tested an Internet-based monitoring system (IMS) with self-recruited volunteers submitting weekly on-line reports about their health in the preceding week, upon weekly reminders. We evaluated IMS acceptability and to which extent participants represented the Swedish population. We also studied the agreement of data on influenza-like illness (ILI) occurrence from IMS with data from a previously evaluated population-based system (PBS) with an actively recruited random sample of the population who spontaneously report disease onsets in real-time via telephone/Internet, and with traditional general practitioner based sentinel and virological influenza surveillance, in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 influenza seasons. We assessed acceptability by calculating the participation proportion in an invited IMS-sample and the weekly reporting proportion of enrolled self-recruited IMS participants. We compared distributions of socio-demographic indicators of self-recruited IMS participants to the general Swedish population using chi-square tests. Finally, we assessed the agreement of weekly incidence proportions (%) of ILI in IMS and PBS with cross-correlation analyses. Among 2,511 invited persons, 166 (6.6%) agreed to participate in the IMS. In each season, 2,552 and 2,486 self-recruited persons participated in the IMS respectively. The weekly reporting proportion among self-recruited participants decreased from 87% to 23% (2011-2012) and 82% to 45% (2012-2013). Women, highly educated, and middle-aged persons were overrepresented among self-recruited IMS participants (p<0.01). IMS (invited and self-recruited) and PBS weekly incidence proportions correlated strongest when no lags were applied (r = 0.71 and r = 0.69, p<0.05). This evaluation revealed socio-demographic misrepresentation and limited compliance among the self-recruited IMS participants. Yet, IMS offered a reasonable representation of the temporal ILI pattern in the community overall during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 influenza seasons and could be a simple tool for collecting community-based ILI data. © 2014 Rehn et al. Source

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