A Quick, Deployable, Online Health Survey in Public Health Research: Emerging Horizons of mHealth during Disasters
Keywords:Data collection, Electronic data capture, Health information management, Information sharing, mHealth, Online survey methodology
Background: A nationwide lockdown in response to the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has disrupted various health surveys. Limited movements due to restricted public-transports, and the need to maintain social-distancing, make data collection at the field site through conventional methods such as face-to-face interviews challenging. Objectives: The objective of the study was to overcome such issues, we document a complete online survey, using mobile technologies, for public health research, and deployable during disasters. Methods: The survey form was uploaded online, and for the 1st time in India, the participant information page, consent, and assent forms were also deployed online. Informed consent forms from participants were captured electronically as hand-drawn signatures. A structured, electronic-questionnaire was shared to the participants’ smartphones, and the collected data were stored in a server using Research Electronic Data Capture, real-time. Results: Within a short span of 10 days, 1985 participants from 31 states and union territories took part in the survey. Among those, 79% had completed the survey, and the rest quit the survey mostly during the “consenting” phase, especially when they were asked to sign the consent/assent forms (16%). About 62.5% of the participant graded the online survey as “much better” followed by 19.5% suggesting “somewhat better,” indicating a positive public perception regarding the online survey. Conclusion: The real-time online survey in health research was perceived to be better than the conventional method. In the digital era, employing mHealth technologies in health research will be a cost-effective methodological approach to obtain the expected research outcome, in a resource and time-limited setting.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Ravi Muthusamy, V. M. Padmapriya, Nagaraj Jaganathasamy, Malathi Mathiyazhakan, Kannan Radhakrishnan, Chokkalingam Durairajan, Sabarinathan Ramasamy, Santhakumar Aridoss, Viji Vinod, Alex Eapen, Elangovan Arumugam
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