Application of handheld devices to field research among underserved construction worker populations: a workplace health assessment pilot study
© Caban-Martinez et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011. This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
BACKGROUND: Novel low-cost approaches for conducting rapid health assessments and health promotion interventions among underserved worker groups are needed. Recruitment and participation of construction workers is particularly challenging due to their often transient periods of work at any one construction site, and their limited time during work to participate in such studies. In the present methodology report, we discuss the experience, advantages and disadvantages of using touch screen handheld devices for the collection of field data from a largely underserved worker population. METHODS: In March 2010, a workplace-centered pilot study to examine the feasibility of using a handheld personal device for the rapid health assessment of construction workers in two South Florida Construction sites was undertaken. A 45-item survey instrument, including health-related questions on tobacco exposure, workplace safety practices, musculoskeletal disorders and health symptoms, was programmed onto Apple iPod Touch® devices. Language sensitive (English and Spanish) recruitment scripts, verbal consent forms, and survey questions were all preloaded onto the handheld devices. The experience (time to survey administration and capital cost) of the handheld administration method was recorded and compared to approaches available in the extant literature. RESULTS: Construction workers were very receptive to the recruitment, interview and assessment processes conducted through the handheld devices. Some workers even welcomed the opportunity to complete the questionnaire themselves using the touch screen handheld device. A list of advantages and disadvantages emerged from this experience that may be useful in the rapid health assessment of underserved populations working in a variety of environmental and occupational health settings. CONCLUSIONS: Handheld devices, which are relatively inexpensive, minimize survey response error, and allow for easy storage of data. These technological research modalities are useful in the collection and assessment of environmental and occupational research data.
This study was supported in part by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)'s Deep South Educational Research Center at the University of Alabama (sub-contract: 288477-10) as a Graduate Student Pilot Grant Award; the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) grant F31AR057687 and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) grant R01 OH003915.
This is the final version of the article. Available from BioMed Central via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 10, article 27
Place of publication