265703 Creating and implementing an iPad app to collect social network data of homeless youth

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Eric Rice, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Harmony Rhoades, PhD , School of Social Work, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Hailey Winetrobe, MPH , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Social network data provides powerful insights into the impact of social environments on the behavioral health outcomes of homeless persons. Collecting social network data is typically very expensive and labor intensive. Social network studies are often perceived by participants to be tiring and frustrating, as the same set of questions is repeatedly asked about each social tie the participant nominates. To collect social network data quickly, cheaply, and with high participant acceptability, we developed an iPad application to collect health-related social network data from homeless youth. Methods: We partnered with ELC Technologies to design an iPad app for in-field use. The construction was a collaborative, four-month process. The app was implemented for use with data collection beginning in January 2012. Results: A series of screen shots depicting this technology in action are available for download at: http://www.divshare.com/download/16705788-149. This technology allows data collection to move beyond paper-and-pencil data collection, and even computer-assisted attribute charts. With 3G capability, it eliminates the need for internet access and promotes immediate, on-site interviewing. The app reduces post-data entry errors, participant burnout and boredom, and interview length. Conclusions: This technology appeals to our target population of 18-25 year-old homeless youth. Other app versions are in the foreseen future, including modifying the app to be used with different populations and for use on individuals' smartphones. We believe that versions of this app will enable researchers to easily and accurately collect social network data in challenging field settings, including shelters, drop-in centers, and street locations.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. To discuss how an iPad app can be developed to overcome challenges associated with collecting social network data from homeless persons. 2. To identify lessons learned associated with the development of the iPad app. 3. To illustrate how an iPad app can be used to collect health-related social network data.

Keywords: Homelessness, Methodology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator of federally funded grants that focus on HIV prevention among homeless youth.
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.