Comparing Paper and Tablet Modes of Retrospective Activity Space Data Collection

Surv Res Methods. 2017;11(3):329-344. doi: 10.18148/srm/2017.v11i3.6741.


Individual actions are both constrained and facilitated by the social context in which individuals are embedded. But research to test specific hypotheses about the role of space on human behaviors and well-being is limited by the difficulty of collecting accurate and personally relevant social context data. We report on a project in Chitwan, Nepal, that directly addresses challenges to collect accurate activity space data. We test if a computer assisted interviewing (CAI) tablet-based approach to collecting activity space data was more accurate than a paper map-based approach; we also examine which subgroups of respondents provided more accurate data with the tablet mode compared to paper. Results show that the tablet approach yielded more accurate data when comparing respondent-indicated locations to the known locations as verified by on-the-ground staff. In addition, the accuracy of the data provided by older and less healthy respondents benefited more from the tablet mode.