Application of handheld devices to field research among underserved construction worker populations: A workplace health assessment pilot study

Alberto J Caban-Martinez, Tainya C. Clarke, Evelyn P. Davila, Lora E. Fleming, David J Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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 Touch1 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 5 2011

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Workplace
Equipment and Supplies
Health
Research
Population
Vulnerable Populations
Consent Forms
Costs and Cost Analysis
Process Assessment (Health Care)
Environmental Health
Information Storage and Retrieval
Malus
Occupational Health
Health Promotion
Tobacco
Language
Economics
Surveys and Questionnaires
Interviews
Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

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abstract = "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 Touch1 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.",
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