Accurate Data Entry in HIV/AIDS Research

August 07, 2012 by Andrea Spillmann

Twenty-four thousand attendees from across the globe flooded Washington DC last week for the 19th International AIDS Conference. Leading researchers, policy makers, government officials, activists, healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical representatives and more convened to discuss promising steps forward and sobering statistics, drafting plans and making commitments to guide the next two years of HIV/AIDS work around the world.

Scenes from the XIX International AIDS Conference. Clockwise, starting at Upper Left: Brazilian dancers, Swiss marketing, Local teens performing, 1993 AIDS quilt

While performances and protests livened the scene, hard data easily took center stage. Medical researchers revealed promising new treatments and new uses for old medications as prevention (PrEP), while program managers shared promising social interventions. Numbers and figures dominated talks, guiding discussions of what does and doesn't work and how to proceed. Yet, a fascinating talk by Dr. Anthony Harries concerned us. Discussing data collection methods, he confirmed that double entry is the gold standard of quality...but that virtually no organization has the staff or resources for that. A know half-groan, half-laugh arose from the room, indicating that too many researchers know the problem all too well.

Single entry, where one person enters data one time, often leads to high error rates, compromising otherwise-promising results and statistically-significant outcomes. Direct entry into mobile devices suffer from the same problem. Double-entry, where two people enter the same data and answers are compared and reentered when they don't agree, has much higher accuracy rates, leading to more reliable data sets and outcome evaluations. The problem, of course, is that double entry takes significant staff time, holding up research and diverting resources. Many researchers have devised clever means of checking data, but even those checks take time, while still not quite achieving double-entry quality.

Given the careful focus paid and resources devoted to designing research studies and collecting data, it seems a waste to lose accuracy in entry. Captricity offers double-entry quality, and costs below in situ single entry, all in a self-serve online website. The idea for the computer science research that powers Captricity was born in a Tanzanian HIV/AIDS clinic's data entry room. This is what the technology was developed for. Using Captricity, researchers would no longer be forced to weigh the difficult trade-offs between cost, time, and accuracy.

Are you a researcher working in HIV/AIDS  or any other field where you've been forced to make this difficult choice? Would you like to learn more about how Captricity could help you? Please contact us or go ahead give Captricity a try.


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