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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins Study Identifies Research Priorities for Ethical Requirements of Mobile Phone Surveys for Noncommunicable Diseases Surveillance

A new study led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research team under the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative (D4H) surveyed global stakeholders to identify ethics-related knowledge and perceptions on the use of mobile phone surveys (MPS) to gather noncommunicable disease (NCD) risk factor information in low- and middle-income countries. The study was published in January in the journal Global Public Health.

Mr. Joseph Ali, the study’s lead author, says there was strong support and enthusiasm for mobile phone surveys overall. Mr. Ali is an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s department of international health and associate director for global programs at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. The study also found that the majority of stakeholders expressed that the current ethical and regulatory requirements for conducting the surveys were unclear or inadequate, potentially due to a lack of guidance on the use of digital technologies for active surveillance.

Few scholars have focused on the ethics of mobile health (mHealth) for active surveillance of risk factors for NCDs in low- and middle-income countries. Global stakeholders consisting of those experienced in law, mHealth, ethics, social science, NCDs, public health surveillance and MPS technology were surveyed. Respondents came from 40 countries, with 61 percent indicating a nationality corresponding to a developing region.

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