A new study reveals the reliability of mobile phones to collect data on noncommunicable disease risk factors in low- and middle-income settings. The study, led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, compared two mobile phone survey methods — one which uses a human caller and another which uses an automated system — to see if the data would be consistent. The study, conducted in Bangladesh and Tanzania, gathered information on tobacco and alcohol use, level of physical activity, diet and history of having been checked for or diagnosed with hypertension or diabetes.
The study, published April 10 in PLOS ONE, found that answers to most of the survey questions had a moderate to high reliability for either method.
“This study shows that an automated system can be used to collect public health risk factor information quickly and results can be largely comparable to those obtained by a human caller,” says Dr. George Pariyo, lead author of the study and senior scientist in the Bloomberg School’s department of international health. “As these methods improve, taking advantage of increasing mobile phone access and use to collect public health information has potential to provide decision-makers the information they need to make more timely decisions and increase effectiveness of noncommunicable disease prevention programs.”
The study was designed by Bloomberg School faculty, implementing the research and development arm of the noncommunicable disease component of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative (D4H). Local partners in each country helped implement the survey: the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research in Bangladesh and the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania.Friday Letter Submission