Direct data capture using hand-held computers in rural Burkina Faso: experiences, benefits and lessons learnt
Article first published online: 10 JUN 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Tropical Medicine & International Health
Special Issue: An Evaluation of Skilled Care at Delivery in Burkina Faso
Volume 13, Issue Supplement s1, pages 25–30, July 2008
How to Cite
Byass, P., Hounton, S., Ouédraogo, M., Somé, H., Diallo, I., Fottrell, E., Emmelin, A. and Meda, N. (2008), Direct data capture using hand-held computers in rural Burkina Faso: experiences, benefits and lessons learnt. Tropical Medicine & International Health, 13: 25–30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3156.2008.02084.x
- Issue published online: 10 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 10 JUN 2008
- data capture;
- hand-held computers;
- personal digital assistants;
- community survey;
Objectives To assess our experiences of using hand-held computers (personal digital assistants, PDAs) for direct data capture in a large community-based geo-referenced survey in rural Burkina Faso, highlighting benefits and lessons learnt from their use.
Methods A population-based geo-referenced survey of over 500 000 people was undertaken using PDAs with in-built GPS receivers and the resulting database analysed in terms of successful completion, error rates and interview durations.
Results Surveys were successfully completed for 84 861 households (98.3%) by 127 interviewers. The data input error rate was assessed at 0.24%, with more than half of the errors being made by less than 10% of the interviewers. Faster interviewers were not less accurate. Time-stamped and geo-referenced data allowed reconstruction of particular interviewer-day activities.
Conclusions Although the survey setting was challenging, the feasibility of using direct data capture on a large scale was well established. We learnt that, with more experience, we could have made better use of real-time entry and quality control checking procedures. The work involved in designing and setting up a complex survey on PDAs prior to data collection should not be underestimated.