Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis:Mobile device functionality, or affordances, make it possible to create new types of surveys that can both play and record media-rich content containing video, audio, and pictures. This enables researchers to present respondents with multimedia health messages for testing and to record media-rich, qualitative feedback in field settings. By constructing survey items that tightly couple closed-ended questions with the choice for respondents to add pictures, video, and voice recordings to explain their answers, researchers and evaluators have the opportunity to not only ask people what they think, but why. Although using a combination of closed-ended questions and open-ended probes for survey research is not a new practice, the use of mobile surveys to tightly couple closed-ended questions with media recording for opinion measurement was first pilot-tested at Georgia Institute of Technology. As part of the 2016 Zika response, CDC received funding from USAID to build on this research to support the evaluation of behavior change communication programs.
Methods:The application was used to evaluate interventions to prevent Zika virus infection in Brazil and the Dominican Republic, and to generate insights about the uses of the survey mode and practical data to improve current Zika outbreak interventions. Field work using the media-rich mobile survey took place in 2017, with teams conducting face-to-face interviews at selected venues where a cross-section of people could be found, such as markets, parks, and clinics. Study participants included women and men, from ages 18-49, who were sexually active, with differing experiences related to pregnancies.
Results:The resulting enhanced version of CDC’s Epi Info mobile survey application offers researchers the choice of collecting data face-to-face or remotely, through download and self-administration. The presentation will cover the overall technical approach, including an analysis of how best to construct and deliver survey item types for media-rich surveys, needed special training requirements for preparing interview teams to work with media-rich surveys, feasibility issues for collecting media-rich data, a report out on cross-cultural aspects of respondents’ interactions with the survey mode, future directions for research, and how attendees may make use of the technology in their own work.
Conclusions:Qualitative data is critical to understanding how people talk about health issues and for identifying attitudes, beliefs, and vernacular contexts that communicators and educators must consider in designing messages to support protective actions. However, it is also important to be able to quantify data on aspects of people’s experience during an outbreak to increase the validity of results with scientists, policymakers, and other decision-makers. The use of media-rich surveys for the evaluation of health behavior change communication research and evaluation represents an important step forward in mixed-methods research for public health practice, which addresses the needs of both communicators and public health decision-makers.
Implications for research and/or practice:Media-rich mobile survey formats enable mixed-methods research to take place in parallel in real-time, rather than as separate data collections, and can reduce the time needed to analyze data and produce reports.