Title

Health surveys using mobile phones in developing countries: Automated active strata monitoring and other statistical considerations for improving precision and reducing biases

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

5-1-2017

Journal

Journal of Medical Internet Research

Volume

19

Issue

5

DOI

10.2196/jmir.7329

Keywords

Mobile health; Mobile phone; Research methodology; Sampling studies; Surveys and questionnaires

Abstract

© 2017 Adrian Aguilera, Emma Bruehlman-Senecal, Orianna Demasi, Patricia Avila. In low-And middle-income countries (LMICs), historically, household surveys have been carried out by face-To-face interviews to collect survey data related to risk factors for noncommunicable diseases. The proliferation of mobile phone ownership and the access it provides in these countries offers a new opportunity to remotely conduct surveys with increased efficiency and reduced cost. However, the near-ubiquitous ownership of phones, high population mobility, and low cost require a re-examination of statistical recommendations for mobile phone surveys (MPS), especially when surveys are automated. As with landline surveys, random digit dialing remains the most appropriate approach to develop an ideal survey-sampling frame. Once the survey is complete, poststratification weights are generally applied to reduce estimate bias and to adjust for selectivity due to mobile ownership. Since weights increase design effects and reduce sampling efficiency, we introduce the concept of automated active strata monitoring to improve representativeness of the sample distribution to that of the source population. Although some statistical challenges remain, MPS represent a promising emerging means for population-level data collection in LMICs.

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