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Previously, when survey data were collected by interviewers using smartphones and tablets, field workers, traveling from residence to residence, were always collecting the data. The Data for Health mobile phone survey is the first nationally representative survey in which questions are asked through cell phone networks and respondents answer by using their own mobile devices. Conducting surveys using mobile phones without visiting households allows surveys to be done more frequently and more cheaply, thus complementing detailed, in-person household surveys.

Within the Data for Health initiative, mobile phone surveys are being piloted in two countries (Zambia and Morocco) alongside the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) NCD risk factor household survey—STEPwise—using the same standardized questions and protocols. Our program partners (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC Foundation, WHO, and Johns Hopkins University) will directly compare findings to quantify the bias introduced by this new mobile phone method before applying this method to additional countries.

For example, Zambia is the first country where the mobile phone survey has been rolled out nationally, beginning in July 2017, and to date, 89 percent of the needed sample size has been completed. An additional advantage of this method is that data analysis can follow quickly after the survey is completed as all data are electronically submitted.

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Image via Flickr Attribution Some rights reserved by Rosenfeld Media

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