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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 443-447

Electronic versus paper-based data collection for conducting health-care research: A cost-comparison analysis

1 Consultant, Division of Online Courses, ICMR National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Scientist E, Division of Non-Communicable Diseases, ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
3 Resident, Department of General Surgery, Apollo Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Sirshendu Chaudhuri
ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.ijph_1271_21

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Background: Containing expenditure and efficient resource use is essential to limit the increasing costs of health research. Electronic data collection (EDC) is thought to reduce the costs compared to paper-based data collection (PDC). Objectives: As economic evidence in this area is scanty, especially in low- and middle-income countries, the objectives of the study are to perform an economic evaluation and compare the cost between EDC and PDC. Methods: A cost-comparison study was conducted to compare between EDC and PDC from the institutional perspective for the year 2018, based on a community-based survey. Step-down cost accounting was adopted with a bottom-up approach for cost estimation. Total and unit costs were estimated with the base case comparison between EDC and PDC while using SPSS software (e-SPSS and p-SPSS, respectively). We conducted scenario analyses based on the usage of different software, R and STATA for both EDC and PDC (e-R, p-R, e-STATA, and p-STATA, respectively). One-way and probabilistic sensitivity analysis (PSA) was performed to examine the robustness of the observed results. Results: In the base-case analysis, total costs of EDC and PDC were ₹72,617 ($1060.9) and 87,717 ($1281.5), respectively, with estimated cost reduction of ₹15,100 ($220.6). In other scenarios, the estimated cost reduction for e-R, e-STATA, p-R, p-STATA was ₹−274 ($4.0), 98 ($1.4), 14826 ($216.6), and 15,002 ($219.2), respectively, when compared to EDC-SPSS. On one-way and PSA, the results of the cost-comparison analysis were robust. Conclusion: EDC minimizes institutional cost for conducting health research. This finding will help researchers in efficiently planning for the budget for their research.

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