Original Article

Perceptions on using interactive voice response surveys for non-communicable disease risk factors in Uganda: a qualitative exploration

Elizeus Rutebemberwa, Juliana Namutundu, Dustin G. Gibson, Alain B. Labrique, Joseph Ali, George W. Pariyo, Adnan A. Hyder


Background: Decision-makers need up to date information on risk factors for effective prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Currently available surveys are infrequent and costly to implement. The objective of the study was to explore perceptions on using an interactive voice response (IVR) survey for data collection on NCD risk factors.
Methods: Five focus group discussions (FGDs), including rural and urban, elderly and young adults, male and female groups; and eleven key informant interviews (KIIs) of researchers and NCD policy makers were conducted. Respondents were audio recorded and data were transcribed into text. Data were entered into QDA miner software for analysis. Meaningful units were generated and then merged into codes and categories. Quotes are presented highlighting findings.
Results: At the individual level, age, gender, disability, past experience and being technology literate were perceived as key determinants on whether respondents would accept an IVR survey. Receiving the IVR at a time at which people are usually available to take calls increases participation. However, technological accessibility like presence of a mobile network signal and possession of mobile phones were critical for use of IVR. Participants recommended that community sensitization activities be provided, IVR be conducted at appropriate times and frequency, and that incentives may improve survey participation.
Conclusions: IVR has the potential to quickly collect data from a wide geographic scope. However, caution needs to be taken to ensure that certain categories of people are not excluded because of their location, ability, age or gender. Sensitization prior to the survey, proper timing and structured incentives could increase participation.

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