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SMS Phone Surveys and Mass-Messaging: Promises and Pitfalls | OMICS International | Abstract
ISSN: 2161-1165

Epidemiology: Open Access
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Review Article

SMS Phone Surveys and Mass-Messaging: Promises and Pitfalls

Havard Wahl Kongsgard1,3* , Tore Syversen2 and Steinar Krokstad1,4

1HUNT Research Centre, Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

2Department of Neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

3Department of Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Information Technology, Mathematics and Electrical Engineering, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway

4Levanger Hospital, Nord-Trondelag Health Trust, Norway

Corresponding Author:
Havard Wahl Kongsgard
HUNT Research Centre
Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine
Norwegian University of Science and Technology , Norway
Tel: 0047-91767991
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: October 06, 2014; Accepted Date: November 11, 2014; Published Date: November 13, 2014

Citation: Kongsgard HW, Syversen T, Krokstad S (2014) SMS Phone Surveys and Mass-Messaging: Promises and Pitfalls. Epidemiology (Sunnyvale) 4:177. doi: 10.4172/2161-1165.1000177

Copyright: © 2014 Kongsgard HW, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

Abstract

Data collection is often tedious and costly. Collecting data with mobile phones and SMS messages is one of many alternatives to more traditional methods. Mass messaging using SMS is a fast and cheap way to initiate a new study. However, as these data collection methods differ widely from conventional surveys, there are many pitfalls. This paper discusses best practice for SMS surveys and mass-messaging as a survey method. We argue that the best approach is to keep everything simple, invite a great number of respondents and know when to give up. Using SMS's or SMS systems for population wide data collection is a form of "mass messaging". Some European countries enforce an all-out ban on all SPAM like communication or require prior-consent. However, non-commercial actors like researchers are often accepted from such regulations. While plain text messages might be regarded as old and unattractive, the technology is fairly robust as it is very simple to generate and use. All types of mass-messaging give a low response-rate as e.g. email SPAM will generate typical response rates in the extent 1 of 12,500,000. But since scaling the survey will generate thousands of observations, low response-rate is not the main problem. Instead given the nature of mass-messaging, selection bias and data quality is a major concern. Nevertheless, these issues are not new to medicine and should not come as a surprise to anyone.

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