Collecting Valid and Reliable Data: Fieldwork Monitoring Strategies in a Health Examination Survey
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionPortuguese Journal of Public Health. 2020, 38 (2), 81-90. 10.1159/000511576
Introduction: Health surveys constitute a relevant information source to access the population’s health status. Given that survey errors can significantly influence estimates and invalidate study findings, it is crucial that the fieldwork progress is closely monitored to ensure data quality. The objective of this study was to describe the fieldwork monitoring conducted during the first Portuguese National Health Examination Survey (INSEF) regarding protocol deviations and key performance indicators (KPI). Methods: Data derived from interviewer observation and from the statistical quality control of selected KPI were used to monitor the four components of the INSEF survey (recruitment, physical examination, blood collection and health questionnaire). Survey KPI included response rate, average time distribution for procedures, distribution of the last digit in a specific measure, proportion of haemolysed blood samples and missing values. Results: Interviewer observation identified deviations from the established protocols, which were promptly corrected. During fieldwork monitoring through KPI, upon implementation of corrective measures, the participation rate increased 2.5-fold, and a 4.4-fold decrease in non-adherence to standardized survey procedures was observed in the average time distribution for blood pressure measurement. The proportion of measurements with the terminal digit of 0 or 5 decreased to 19.6 and 16.5%, respectively, after the pilot study. The proportion of haemolysed samples was at baseline level, below 2.5%. Missing data issues were minimized by promptly communicating them to the interviewer, who could recontact the participant and fill in the missing information. Discussion/Conclusion: Although the majority of the deviations from the established protocol occurred during the first weeks of the fieldwork, our results emphasize the importance of continuous monitoring of survey KPI to ensure data quality throughout the survey.