Online Program

Web-based data collection with adults who are homeless and sleep on the streets

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Karin M. Eyrich-Garg, PhD, MPE, School of Social Work, College of Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Homeless individuals, many of whom have alcohol and other drug, mental health, and medical problems may be among the most difficult populations to track. To increase follow-up rates, Ribsil and colleagues (1996) recommend that researchers “make research involvement convenient and rewarding” for participants (p. 9). Web-based self-administered data collection systems offer participants the benefit of being able to complete the survey at a time and location of the participant's choice, permit participants to stop and restart the survey as many times as they choose as well as to read and re-read questions without feeling pressured to answer quickly. Participants also feel a greater degree of anonymity and privacy with computer-based self-administered interviews than with in-person interviews.

This study's purpose is to test the feasibility of collecting data via the web in public spaces (e.g., the library) from homeless adults. A convenience sample (n=20) is being recruited. Participants are (1) 18+ years old, (2) homeless at the time of recruitment, (3) sleeping on the streets at the time of recruitment, and (4) willing to use a computer. The study is being conducted in two phases. During each phase 10 participants are asked to answer a web-based survey once a week for eight consecutive weeks. Survey questions focus on homelessness, service use, community participation, substance use, and risky sexual behaviors.

In this presentation, the authors will discuss the successes and obstacles they encountered while conducting this feasibility study.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the advantages and disadvantages of collecting data from homeless adults who sleep on the street via the web. Explain the logistical challenges of collecting data from homeless adults who sleep on the street via the web.

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Technology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked with homeless populations (as a provider and as a researcher) for over 15 years. I have expertise in mental health and substance use disorders, which are disproportionately high in this population.
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.