Background: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many partners are responding to the emergence of Zika virus in the Western Hemisphere, including the US Virgin Islands (USVI). A core component of any local response to Zika virus is educating and engaging community members about ways to protect themselves from infection (e.g., personal protective behaviors), but also ways to reduce the mosquito population in the community (e.g., vector control approaches).
Program background: The USVI Zika response included many interventions focused on communication, distribution of Zika Prevention Kits, Zika testing, and offering free insecticide services for community members upon request. In September and October 2016, USVI saw an increase in Zika cases, and this led to a decision to gather insights from pregnant women, community members, and community leaders in an intensive 1-month information collection effort. One component of the assessment was to gather audience feedback on four Zika fact sheets, two of which were focused on proposed vector control approaches.
Evaluation Methods and Results: A convenience sample of residents of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John were intercepted at public places across the islands (e.g., farmer’s markets, gyms, post office, food court of a shopping mall, etc.). Trained interviewers from the USVI Department of Health presented the residents with a fact sheet to review and then interviewed the residents about it. Each resident reviewed two different fact sheets. These were shown in different pairings and orders to address any sequence effects. Samsung tablets with the Epi-INFO mobile application presented the questions for interviewers to read and audio-recorded the questions the interview asked and the answers the respondent provided.. The technology allowed for an answer to be recorded individually for each question, creating a spreadsheet with embedded audio clips per question rather than one long recording. Sixty interviews were conducted between November 15 and December 9 with daily uploads to a secure CDC file transfer protocol (ftp) site. The CDC Joint Information Center Research and Evaluation Team led the transcription and thematic analysis of all interviews between January-February 2017 using the Epi info spreadsheet. Residents offered constructive feedback on the fact sheets that led to a list of suggestions for improving each of them.
Conclusions: Using Epi info’s mobile platform allowed for efficient audio recording of audience feedback on materials and produced a spreadsheet that is familiar and accessible to most professionals, which allowed a small team to analyze data quickly. Insights gathered were used to improve the communication efforts to educate and inform the community about vector control activities.
Implications for research and/or practice: New tools, like the Epi info mobile platform, make it possible for practitioners to get audience feedback rapidly. Even in an emergency response, gathering insights from audience members and adapting materials as needed are vital for ensuring clear communication.