Telephone follow-up in a randomized controlled trial in a less developed country: feasibility, validity and representativeness

J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Mar 1;53(3):331-4. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(99)00166-3.


Telephone follow-up would offer considerable advantages over other modes of follow-up in less developed countries, if it were feasible and the findings were valid and generalizable. Telephone follow-up was assessed in the context of a randomized controlled trial of chest radiography in South African children. Hospital-based clinical outcomes were measured from hospital records, and also by telephone, in a subset of the same patients who offered a contact telephone number. Of 398 subjects offering a telephone number 308 (77.4%) were followed to recovery or for 28 days. Kappa statistics for a subsequent hospital visit, hospital admission, and chest radiograph were 0.88, 0.83, and 0.56, respectively. The effect of chest radiography did not differ significantly in participants accessible and not accessible by telephone. Telephone follow-up was feasible and produced valid and generalizable results at low cost.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Developing Countries*
  • Follow-Up Studies*
  • Hospital Records
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Lung Diseases / therapy*
  • Methods
  • Radiography
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone*
  • Urban Population