Use of research electronic data capture (REDCap) in a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial (SMART): a practical example of automating double randomization

Carol A. Lee, Danilo Gamino, Michelle Lore, Curt Donelson, Liliane C. Windsor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Adaptive interventions are often used in individualized health care to meet the unique needs of clients. Recently, more researchers have adopted the Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trial (SMART), a type of research design, to build optimal adaptive interventions. SMART requires research participants to be randomized multiple times over time, depending upon their response to earlier interventions. Despite the increasing popularity of SMART designs, conducting a successful SMART study poses unique technological and logistical challenges (e.g., effectively concealing and masking allocation sequence to investigators, involved health care providers, and subjects) in addition to other challenges common to all study designs (e.g., study invitations, eligibility screening, consenting procedures, and data confidentiality protocols). Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) is a secure, browser-based web application widely used by researchers for data collection. REDCap offers unique features that support researchers’ ability to conduct rigorous SMARTs. This manuscript provides an effective strategy for performing automatic double randomization for SMARTs using REDCap. Methods: Between January and March 2022, we conducted a SMART using a sample of adult (age 18 and older) New Jersey residents to optimize an adaptive intervention to increase COVID-19 testing uptake. In the current report, we discuss how we used REDCap for our SMART, which required double randomization. Further, we share our REDCap project XML file for future investigators to use when designing and conducting SMARTs. Results: We report on the randomization feature that REDCap offers and describe how the study team automated an additional randomization that was required for our SMART. An application programming interface was used to automate the double randomizations in conjunction with the randomization feature provided by REDCap. Conclusions: REDCap offers powerful tools to facilitate the implementation of longitudinal data collection and SMARTs. Investigators can make use of this electronic data capturing system to reduce errors and bias in the implementation of their SMARTs by automating double randomization. Trial registration: The SMART study was prospectively registered at; registration number: NCT04757298, date of registration: 17/02/2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number162
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Adaptive interventions
  • Automation
  • Experimental design
  • Randomization
  • Randomized controlled trials (RCT)
  • Reducing human errors
  • Research Electronic Data capture (REDCap)
  • Sequential multiple assignment Randomized Trial (SMART)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Epidemiology


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