244283 Size Matters: A Comparison of Data Collection Using Tablet Laptops, Mobile Phones, PDAs, and Paper

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sandra Dalebout, MPH , Project HOPE, Millwood, VA
John Bronson , Project HOPE, Millwood, VA
Sapprudin Perwira , Project HOPE, Millwood, VA
Andee Cooper, MPH , Consultant, Durham, NC
Operations Research was conducted to determine the best method to use to collect data (paper, PDA, mobile phones, tablet laptops) during a quantitative midterm evaluation for a maternal/child health program in Indonesia. Factors analyzed included cost, staff time, speed & ease of use, interviewer perception, and data errors.

Cost was highest for tablet laptops and lowest for paper. The electronic devices required one additional training day. Less staff time was required to program the devices than to enter the data. Little staff time was required for troubleshooting devices during operations or for cleaning data.

An average of 23 and 22 interviews were collected daily using paper and tablets, respectively, compared to only 17 per day on the mobile phones (four of each method used daily).

Data errors were observed through parallel data collection (167 possible questions) and by verifying required modules were completed and skip patterns observed. On average, the paper surveys had twice the error rate of the electronic devices (8.6%), with tablets best (3.7%) and mobile phones at 4.4%.

Interviewers liked the tablet laptops best, reporting the larger screens were easier to use than the mobile screens. All devices were easier to learn and use than paper.

Electronic devices yielded fewer errors due in part to pre-programmed skip patterns. Both paper and tablet laptops were equally fast to use; however, paper yielded the most data errors. While initially more expensive, the tablet laptops produced the fewest errors, took less staff time, and had additional usability in the program.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Compare the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of electronic collection devices used in evaluation Identify common errors with data collection methods Formulate options in planning for and budgeting for evaluation activities

Keywords: Technology, Evaluation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I oversee monitoring and evaluation activities in programs worldwide, with over ten years experience.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.