Enhancing survey data collection among youth and adults: Use of handheld and laptop computers

James A. Bobula, Lori S. Anderson, Susan K. Riesch, Janie Canty-Mitchell, Angela Duncan, Heather A. Kaiser-Krueger, Roger L. Brown, Nicole Angresano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, early sexual behavior, dietary practices, physical inactivity, and activities that contribute to unintentional and intentional injuries are a significant threat to the health of young people. These behaviors have immediate and long-term consequences and contribute to diminished health, educational, and social outcomes. Research suggests that health risk behaviors exhibited during adolescence and adulthood have their origins earlier in childhood and preventive interventions are less successful after the risk behaviors have begun. Therefore, efforts to prevent health risk behaviors are best initiated in late childhood or early adolescence. However, to document the efficacy of these efforts, reliable, valid, and parent/child-friendiy systems of data collection are required. Computerized data collection for research has been found to improve privacy, confidentiality, and portability over the paper-and-pencil method, which, in turn, enhances the reliability of sensitive data such as alcohol use or sexual activity. We developed programming tools for the personal computer and a handheld personal data assistant to offer a comprehensive set of user interface design elements, relational databases, and ample programming languages so that adults could answer 261 items and youth 346 items. The purpose of the article was to describe an innovative handheld computer-assisted survey interview method of collecting sensitive data with children aged 9 to 11. The method was developed as part of a large multisite, national study to prevent substance use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
JournalCIN - Computers Informatics Nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004


  • At-risk youth
  • Computers
  • Data collection
  • Research
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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