Background Gathering information for a study is a high priority to ensure both the quality of the information gathered and the accuracy of the study's conclusions. This was evident during a collaborative pediatric dental health project initiated by Ugandan dental students in third-year dentistry at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and by first- and second-year Canadian medical students from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Purpose To review the strengths and weakness of gathering data by using an interview and survey method with children as historians and common issues influencing accurate data collection during an international collaborative university project.
Methods 480 surveys were conducted of Ugandan children's' dental practices and their overall oral health in four different rural communities. Data were collected over a month time period using 12 different student data information collectors. Recurrent common problems with data collection using the survey form were identified by observational methods.
Results Information-gathering difficulties occurred in the identifying demographic data, recording survey tracking numbers, filling in negative responses, missing questions, conflicting answers about the same topic, and physical examiantion observations.
Conclusions Areas identified as difficulties in the survey data collection appeared across all four Ugandan community sites and for all student data collectors. A prestudy education workshop for project students providing familiarization with expected data input and stressing the importance of accurate data collection may increase the accuracy of the final results of the study.
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