Electronic data collection in epidemiological research

Journal: Applied Clinical Informatics
ISSN: 1869-0327
Issue: Vol. 7: Issue 3 2016
Pages: 672-681

Electronic data collection in epidemiological research

The use of REDCap in the Pelotas birth cohorts

Research Article

C. Blumenberg (1), A. J. D. Barros (1)

(1) Postgraduate Programme in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil


Medical Informatics, Epidemiology, Public health informatics, electronic data capture, Translational research


Objectives: This paper describes the use of Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) to conduct one of the follow-up waves of the 2004 Pelotas birth cohort. The aim is to point out the advantages and limitations of using this electronic data capture environment to collect data and control every step of a longitudinal epidemiological research, specially in terms of time savings and data quality.

Methods: We used REDCap as the main tool to support the conduction of a birth cohort follow-up. By exploiting several REDCap features, we managed to schedule assessments, collect data, and control the study workflow. To enhance data quality, we developed specific reports and field validations to depict inconsistencies in real time.

Results: Using REDCap it was possible to investigate more variables without significant increases on the data collection time, when comparing to a previous birth cohort follow-up. In addition, better data quality was achieved since negligible out of range errors and no validation or missing inconsistencies were identified after applying over 7,000 interviews.

Conclusions: Adopting electronic data capture solutions, such as REDCap, in epidemiological research can bring several advantages over traditional paper-based data collection methods. In favor of improving their features, more research groups should migrate from paper to electronic-based epidemiological research.

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