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Press Release

Study underway to evaluate the effectiveness of using a mobile app to conduct public health surveys

Posted on: 30 Sep 16

FREMONT, CA (September 27, 2016) The Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), a San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit research organization, will collaborate with a team of researchers from major research institutions, led by Castleton University in Vermont, to develop and pilot test a mobile application for an interactive behavioral health-related survey. 

With the rapid adoption and acceptance of new technologies and applications for personal devices there have been significant changes in the way people communicate. Traditional survey research has been challenged with declining response rates, limited landline telephone coverage, and increasing expenses and decreasing budgets. This important project will help researchers gather broader data to improve public health in a timely manner from a representative sample of the population. 

In this pilot study, university students will be asked to complete short surveys. One group of students will receive a gamified app, while another group will receive a standard app. The mobile app will be developed and available on iOS and Android devices. The project is scheduled to be completed in February 2017.

The project team is comprised of epidemiologists, public health and big data experts, communication and survey specialists, app developers and a HIPAA compliant platform provider. Team members include faculty from Stanford University School of Medicine, the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), The Yasamin Miller Group (YMG), Castleton University, Microsoft, Onetree and Medable Inc. 

Members of the team from CPIC and Stanford include Drs. Ingrid Oakley-Girvan, Lorene Nelson, Cheryl Gore-Felton, Jeff Hancock and Oxana Palesh. The team will evaluate response time, response rate and the reliability of using a mobile app platform to collect data compared to traditional survey methods.

According to Oakley-Girvan, ‘The use of mobile apps to conduct public health surveys and interventions can be instrumental in reaching groups currently not well represented and could also be invaluable to increase participation in clinical trials. This project and other foundational work conducted by team members holds the potential to provide critical health research tools and data needed to solve persistent health problems.’

About the Cancer Prevention Institute of California
The Cancer Prevention Institute of California is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing cancer and to reducing its burden where it cannot yet be prevented. CPIC is the only freestanding research institution working solely to prevent cancer using extensive population data. Researchers at CPIC study a wide range of cancer risk factors, such as racial/ethnic background, socioeconomic status, age, occupation, gender, genetic predisposition, geographic location, environment and lifestyle to determine how these factors affect frequency, distribution and types of cancers. For more information, visit the CPIC website at 

Media Contact: 
Donna Lock, 510-608-5160 |

For more information:

Editor's Details

Mike Wood

Last updated on: 30/09/2016

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