The advantages of mobile data collection for your research study data

📱Mobile data collection for your research study helps to reduce missing and bad data and opens up new study designs.
WeGuide
May 20, 2020
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5 min read

Chasing up participants to hand in their questionnaires, manually typing over answers on your computer, and finding out participants filled in the wrong information - these are some of the frustrations of running a longitudinal study, such as a diary study. Diary studies are a great way to collect rich data from participants in their home environment, but they are challenging. Luckily, digital apps such as WeGuide are here to make that easier.

Example of an interface of one of the WeGuide apps.

Say goodbye to missing data 👋

A big problem of running a paper-based diary study is that after getting back the data from the study participants, certain data points may be missing. The participant forgot to fill in that questionnaire on Monday morning, lost the paper form, or skipped the questions that were on the back of the form. By using a mobile app to collect diary study data, you can make sure that the participants are collecting the right information at the right time.

WeGuide helps participants to enter their data with some clever features. For example, if possible within the study protocol, we let participants set their own ideal time to fill in their data. Some people prefer to fill intheir data on the train, or when they have their breakfast. Linking a specific situation with an action is called an implementation intention. Implementation intentions work as follows:

If situation X is encountered, then I will perform the goal-directed response Y

Research has shown that implementationintentions, have shown to make a great impact on goal achievement 🏅.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) has used this technique in a few of their mobile and iPad apps with great results. For example in MCRI’s Vitality app that was used for the Vitality study, missing diary entries were reduced to less than 4% in a 2-month long research study that required parents to administer and track vitamin D intake every single day.

An example of how WeGuide uses implementation intentions

Prevent bad data 🙅‍♀️

Remember those participants that filled in “neutral” for every Likert-scale question? Or those participants that misinterpreted the format and filled in the wrong information in the wrong box? You will have to chase up these participants to confirm the data or find out what’s wrong, with the risk of losing these participants. So frustrating. Luckily, a an app can be of great help here. Within WeGuide we have built-in data validation to make sure we get the right information for the right question. We make sure we only ask the participant one question at a time so we don’t confuse them. Besides this, we can predict which participants have entered in suspicious data by looking at their answer patterns (e.g. a pattern of answers of “neutral”, “neutral”, “neutral”, “neutral”, “neutral” is quite suspicious), and the completion time of certain questionnaires or tasks (too fast is in most cases not good, neither is too slow).

Mobile apps to collect richer data than ever before

Paper-based studies limit you in the things you can track or collect. How do you capture how much activity somebody did, what they ate or where they travelled? With a mobile app for Android and/or iOS (Apple) application you can use functions that are included in every smartphone, such as the camera, recording, step tracking, GPS location and more, to create better studies. With our planned integration with Apple HealthKit and Google Fit, you will even be able to collect vital health metrics such as heart rates and blood pressure.

Use tools like the Apple Watch to collect data such as Steps, Blood pressure or even ECG data

No more paper piling up 📑

No need to copy over data from paper forms to a spreadsheet/database. Everything is digital, and you can easily export the data from your study into a .csv/.xls file, or you can decide to send it directly to REDCap.

Ready to take advantage of mobile for your study?

Mobile app development is normally very expensive, which is one of the reasons why not a lot of research studies have used mobile apps in the past. That's one of the reasons that we've created WeGuide, to make it easier and more affordable for research to use an app for their study. Want to have a chat about it? Feel free to reach out to us via the contact form.

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Research