The road to successful people-centric research in rare diseases: the web-based case study of the Immunology and Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation questionnaire (ImmunoCDGQ)

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BACKGROUND: Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDG) are a complex family of rare metabolic diseases. Robust clinical data collection faces many hurdles, preventing full CDG biological and clinical comprehension. Web-based platforms offer privileged opportunities for biomedical data gathering, and participant recruitment, particularly in rare diseases. The immunology and CDG electronic (e-) questionnaire (ImmunoCDGQ) explores this paradigm, proposing a people-centric framework to advance health research and participant empowerment.

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this study were to: (1) Describe and characterize the ImmunoCDGQ development, engagement, recruitment, participation, and result dissemination strategies; (2) To critically compare this framework with published literature and making recommendations.

METHODS: An international, multistakeholder people-centric approach was initiated to develop and distribute the ImmunoCDGQ, a multi-lingual e-questionnaire able to collect immune-related data directly from patients and family caregivers. An adapted version was produced and distributed among the general "healthy" population (ImmunoHealthyQ), serving as the control group. Literature screening was performed to identify and analyze comparable studies.

RESULTS: The ImmunoCDGQ attained high participation and inclusion rates (94.6%, 209 out of 221). Comparatively to the control, CDG participants also showed higher and more variable questionnaire completion times as well as increased English version representativeness. Additionally, 20% of the CDG group (42 out of 209) chose not to complete the entire questionnaire in one go. Conditional logic structuring guided participant data provision and accurate data analysis assignment. Multi-channel recruitment created sustained engagement with Facebook emerging as the most followed social media outlet. Still, most included ImmunoCDGQ questionnaires (50.7%, 106 out of 209) were submitted within the first month of the project's launch. Literature search and analysis showed that most e-questionnaire-based studies in rare diseases are author-built (56.8%, 25 out of 44), simultaneously addressing medical and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and/or information needs (79.5%, 35 out of 44). Also, over 68% of the studies adopt multi-platform recruitment (30 out of 44) actively supported by patient organizations (52.3%, 23 out of 44).

CONCLUSIONS: The ImmunoCDGQ, its methodology and the CDG Community served as models for health research, hence paving a successful and reproducible road to people-centricity in biomedical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number134
Number of pages18
JournalOrphanet Journal of Rare Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation (CDG)
  • Electronic (e-) questionnaire
  • Patient empowerment
  • Patient engagement
  • Patient recruitment
  • People-centricity
  • Rare diseases
  • Social media
  • Web-based platforms


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