Online Program

Using mobile phones to collect data for an OVC program in Tanzania

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kerry Bruce, DrPH, Pact, Washington, DC
Chela Ghanai, BA, Pact, Washington, DC
Robert Kindoli, BA, Pact, Washington, DC
Linda Madeleka, BA, Pact, Washington, DC
Todd Malone, MA, Pact, Washington, DC
In 2011 a group of international non-governmental organization staff tested the feasibility of using mobile phones for data collection in a rural population of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Tanzania. Methods: A survey was designed on paper and translated into an electronic format using an African based commercially available data collection platform. Field staff were trained in the use of the technology and data were collected on 1268 households. Results: Data were available for analysis the week after data collection, speeding up the process of analysis considerably when compared with paper data collection and double data entry. Data integrity was high and only a few (n=15) surveys were lost due to mobile phone malfunction. There were no complaints from respondents about use of mobile phones to collect the data and data confidentiality was improved, because data were immediately transferred to a password protected database via encrypted message. There were some issues with mobile phone provider coverage and with primary key identifiers for merging the datasets. Discussion: Using mobile phones to collect data for OVC programs in remote areas of Tanzania proved feasible. The researchers would caution those adopting the technology to allow enough time for training and testing at the field level and to have a central person with a strong internet connection ensuring the data quality as it is uploaded. There should also be a sufficient period of field testing before taking the survey live. We would also recommend the use of GPS enabled phones to ease mapping of the data.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Explain how mobile phones can ease data collection in remote and difficult contexts in Africa Identify key issues to consider when preparing for mobile phone data collection Analyze the lessons learned specific to data collection with vulnerable populations.

Keyword(s): Data Collection, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was a principal investigator on this study and was involved in the entire process of the data collection and analysis.
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.