Evaluation of a Computerized Field Data Collection System for Health Surveys

By Forster, D.; Behrens, R. H. et al. | Bulletin of the World Health Organization, January-February 1991 | Go to article overview

Evaluation of a Computerized Field Data Collection System for Health Surveys


Forster, D., Behrens, R. H., Campbell, H., Byass, P., Bulletin of the World Health Organization


A customized field data collection system (FDCS) has been developed for a hand-held computer to collect and check questionnaire data. The data quality, preparation time, and user acceptability of the system were evaluated during a malaria morbidity survey in Bakau, the Gambia. Eight field-workers collected data with either the FDCS or on paper questionnaire forms in alternate weeks over a 6-week period. Significantly fewer item errors occurred with the FDCS, and by the end of the survey period interview times were significantly less with the FDCS than with the paper and pencil questionnaire.

Advanced appropriate technology may have a useful role in providing accurate and rapid information, particularly in overcoming bottlenecks in data processing, and in obviating the need for costly expertise and equipment. In developing countries this could help to improve the quality of data on health care.

Introduction

The first application of computers for the direct collection of data was for studies of telephone interviews, conducted in the 1970s 1). Recent advances in computer technology and increasing miniaturization have resulted in portable computers that now make possible computer-assisted personal interviewing (2). The facilities offered on such systems include the ability to provide range and consistency checks at the time of the interview, guided interviews with predefined routing, error messages, feedback messages, and interpretation of the information collected. Computer-assisted collection provides data in a computer-ready format, thereby eliminating the labour-intensive and error prone process of data entry, and validation. For this purpose, we designed a custom-written field data collection system (FDCS) to provide validated data entry. Following the development stage, the system underwent field evaluation within an established malaria study at the MRC laboratories in the Gambia (3). The system was compared with a traditional paper questionnaire for improvements in the quality of data, user acceptability, and robustness in daily use. Although computer-based information systems in primary health care have already been established (4), innovative applications should help overcome some of the many difficulties in planning and administering health in developing countries.

Materials and methods

The field data collection system The system hardware comprised a Psion Organiser 11 XP hand-held computer, weighing 250 g (Fig. 1), with two removable data chips. The customized software, written in OPL (a BASIC-like language), is held permanently on a 64 Kbyte EPROM chip and collected data are stored on a 32 Kbyte semi-volatile random access memory (RAM) chip. The software provides a versatile and user-friendly method of transferring questionnaires onto the hand-held computer. The construction of the questionnaire involves formulating a question prompt, an item type, and an explanatory note for each question. The item types are defined as numeric, logical, date, or character, and can be validated by range checks on numeric helds, code validity on single-coded fields, branch conditions, or consistency checks against previously recorded data. If required, records can be automatically date-, time- and identity-stamped, and access to the system restricted by password control. Customized routines can also be incorporated into the questionnaire to use child-growth reference standards and produce anthropometric data in a standardized format, or include cohort identity lists for use as a cross-reference during data entry. Several questionnaires can be defined and, when selected for data entry, supported by editing, optional help, and in-built error-message displays. Other utilities available in the data entry mode include data summary and record review. Data are transferred via a standard RS232 interface to any IBM-compatible microcomputer and this step is controlled from within the FDCS.

Study design

A 45-item questionnaire from an ongoing field study of malaria morbidity in Bakau, Gambia, was defined on the FDCS. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Evaluation of a Computerized Field Data Collection System for Health Surveys
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.