An assessment of the use of hand-held computers during demographic surveys in developing countries - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 12-001-X199500214392


Although large scale surveys conducted in developing countries can provide an invaluable snapshot of the health situation in a community, results produced rarely reflect the current reality as they are often released several months or years after data collection. The time lag can be partially attributed to delays in entering, coding and cleaning data after it is collected in the field. Recent advances in computer technology have provided a means of directly recording data onto a hand-held computer. Errors are reduced because in-built checks triggered as the questionnaire is administered reject illogical or inconsistent entries. This paper reports the use of one such computer-assisted interviewing tool in the collection of demographic data in Kenya. Although initial costs of establishing computer-assisted interviewing are high, the benefits are clear: errors that can creep into data collected by experienced field staff can be reduced to negligible levels. In situations where speed is essential, a large number of staff are involved, or a pre-coded questionnaire is used to collect data routinely over a long period, computer-assisted interviewing could prove a means of saving costs in the long term, as well as producing a dramatic improvement in data quality in the immediate term.

Issue Number: 1995002
Author(s): Forster, D.; Snow, R.W.

Main Product: Survey Methodology

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PDFDecember 15, 1995

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