Archive for the 'Areas (Subject)' Category

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Apple Research Kit: New Frontiers in Data Collection & Informed Consent

The Apple Research Kit allows researchers to develop an iPhone app, which interested respondents can download from the Apple Store. The respondent goes through an on-line consent form and then responds to questions, tasks (walking), etc. Some of the diagnostic tools are based on previously developed apps from the Apple Healthkit.

As of now, apps have been developed for collecting data for research projects on asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s, mind, body, and wellness after breast cancer, and for a population-based study, the LGBTQ population.

Here is a description of the informed consent process for these iPhone apps:
Participant-Centered Consent Toolkit

Listed below are a few press releases associated with the Pride Study – the population based study of the gay population. Following those posts are some more general critiques of this way of gathering data. The post from the Verge is probably the most critical raising issues of “on the internet no one knows you are a dog” and gaming the consent process (lying about eligibility for the study). On the plus side, the participant pool is going to be easier to sign up and won’t be limited to those who live close to research hospitals. Here is an excerpt from Business Insider to the reaction to the app launch for the Stanford Heart study:

It’s really incredible … in the first 24 hours of research kit we’ve had 11,000 people sign up for a study in cardiovascular disease through Stanford University’s app. And, to put that in perspective – Stanford has told us that it would have taken normally 50 medical centers an entire year to sign up that many participants. So, this is – research kit is an absolute game changer.

The participant pool is limited to iPhone users (no android version of these apps), although some will have a web interface (the Pride Study).

Launch of the Pride Study
UCSF Researchers Launch Landmark Study of LGBTQ Community Health
Jyoti Madhusoodanan | UCSF Press Release
June 25, 2015

A big LGBT health study is coming to the iPhone
Stephanie M. Lee | BuzzFeed
June 25, 2015

How The iPhone Is Powering A Massive LGBT Health Study
Kif Leswing | International Business Times
June 25, 2015

Critiques of the Apple ResearchKit
Apple’s new ResearchKit: ‘Ethics quagmire’ or medical research aid?
Arielle Duhaime-Ross | The Verge
March 10, 2015

In-Depth: Apple ResearchKit concerns, potential, analysis
mobilehealthnews
March 9, 2015

What’s the Matter with Polling?

What is the Matter with Polling?
Cliff Zukin | New York Times
June 20, 2015

This article focuses on political polling – and predictions from political polls, but much of the content is relevant to other sorts of telephone-based opinion surveys, many of which are used by social scientists: Survey of Consumers, Pew, Gallup, etc.

The article focuses on (a) the move from landline to cellphones; (b) the growing non-response rate; (c) costs; (d) and sample metrics, e.g., representativeness.

The decline in landline phones makes telephone surveys more expensive since cell phones cannot be reached through automatic dialers. The landline phone vs cellphone distribution comes from the National Health Interview Survey. Here’s a recent summary of the data. The article summarizes this as “About 10 years ago. . . . about 6 percent of the public used only cellphones. The N.H.I.S. estimate for the first half of 2014 found that this had grown to 43 percent, with another 17 percent “mostly” using cellphones. In other words, a landline-only sample conducted for the 2014 elections would miss about three-fifths of the American public, almost three times as many as it would have missed in 2008.”

The other issue for polling is the growing non-response rate.

When I first started doing telephone surveys in New Jersey in the late 1970s, we considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, and even then we worried if the 20 percent we missed were different in attitudes and behaviors than the 80 percent we got. Enter answering machines and other technologies. By 1997, Pew’s response rate was 36 percent, and the decline has accelerated. By 2014 the response rate had fallen to 8 percent.

Non-response makes surveys more expensive – more numbers to call to find a respondent and many of them dialed by hand if it is a cellphone universe. And, most important, is the representativeness of the sample that the survey ends up with. So far, surveys based on probability samples seem to still be representative, at least based on comparing sample characteristics to gold-standard benchmarks like the American Community Survey (ACS). Participation in the ACS is mandatory, although for the last several years, Republicans in the House have tried to remove this requirement. Canada did away with its mandatory requirements with its census, with disastrous results. The following is a compilation of posts related to the mandatory response requirement in the US and Canada: [Older Posts]

Measuring Race . . . Again

The following are collection of news stories on how the Census Bureau is planning to collect data on race. It is misleading to say that the Census Bureau will not collect data on race. Instead, of asking about Hispanic Origin and Race, the Census Bureau is likely to ask about “categories” that describe the person.

And, a new category might be “Middle Eastern or North African.”

The Census Bureau collects data on all sorts of topics, but the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) makes the final call on how the concept is measured by the Federal Statistical System. Links to the Census Bureau’s submission to OMB and a report based on internal research follow a nice summary by Pew.

Census considers new approach to asking about race – by not using the term at all
D’Vera Cohn | Pew Research Center
June 18, 2015

2010 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Alternative Questionnaire Experiment
from the 2010 Census Program for Evaluations and Experiments
Feb 28, 2013

National Content Test
Submission for OMB Review | Federal Register
May 22, 2015

Educational data vulnerable to ‘privacy’ legislation

When Guarding Student Data Endangers Valuable Research
Susan Dynarski | New York Times (Upshot Blog)
June 13, 2015

University of Michigan Public Policy professor, Susan Dynarski, warns researchers of pending legislation that would curtail sharing of educational data with researchers:

In response to such concerns, some pending legislation would scale back the authority of schools, districts and states to share student data with third parties, including researchers. Perhaps the most stringent of these proposals, sponsored by Senator David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, would effectively end the analysis of student data by outside social scientists. This legislation would have banned recent prominent research documenting the benefits of smaller classes, the value of excellent teachers and the varied performance of charter schools.

Below is a summary of Vitter’s proposed legislation from his office:

Vitter Introduces Student Privacy Protection Act
David Vitter, R(LA) | From David’s Desk
May 14, 2015

Federal Reserve’s New Survey of Households

The Federal Reserve released the 2014 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking on May 27, 2015.

From the press release:

The Federal Reserve Board’s latest survey of the financial and economic conditions of American households released Wednesday finds that individuals’ overall perceptions of financial well-being improved modestly between 2013 and 2014 but their optimism about future financial prospects increased significantly.

Download full report (PDF)

America’s Changing Religious Landscape

The Pew Research Center released a report earlier this month examining religion in the United States. Overall, they find that Christianity is in decline among Americans of all ages, races and ethnicities, and education levels.

Download the complete report (PDF)
Interactive database tool

See also: Q&A: A look at what’s driving the changes seen in our Religious Landscape Study and a study from last year, How Americans Feel About Religious Groups.

Family Support in Graying Societies

The Pew Research Center released a report exploring how the United States, Germany and Italy are coping with an increasing population of people aged 65 and older.

The United States is turning gray, with the number of people ages 65 and older expected to nearly double by 2050. This major demographic transition has implications for the economy, government programs such as Social Security and families across the U.S….

Germany and Italy, two of the “oldest” nations in the world, after only Japan, are already where the U.S. will be in 2050: a fifth of the population in each country is age 65 or older.

See also: Americans are aging, but not as fast as people in Germany, Italy and Japan (also from Pew) and Why the Oldest Person in the World Keeps Dying (from FiveThirtyEight).

Hispanics and Education

Jens Manuel Krogstad of Pew Research Center lists 5 Facts About Latinos and Education:

Educational attainment among U.S. Latinos has been changing rapidly in recent years, reflecting the group’s growth in the nation’s public K-12 schools and colleges. Over the past decade, the Hispanic high school dropout rate has declined and college enrollment has increased, even as Hispanics trail other groups in earning a bachelor’s degree.

Family Income and College Chances

The New York Times Upshot continues to make interesting use of Raj Chetty’s Equality of Opportunity project. In an article posted today, they ask readers to draw a graph of their best guess of how family income affects children’s college chances, then explore (in real time) how other readers are guessing compared with the actual data.

PRB Webinar: Extreme Poverty and Health in the United State

When: Thursday, June 11, 2015, 1:00-2:30 pm (EDT)
Register: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2329568637789737218

From the e-mail invitation:

Studies show that a growing number of U.S. families have incomes so low that the difficulties of their living situations may be masked by thinking of the poor as a homogeneous group. For instance, since the mid-1990s the number of families living on less than $2.00 in cash per person per day has more than doubled. Over the same interval, a smaller share of government social welfare spending has gone to the deeply poor.

This webinar will address issues such as how these families subsist, what public assistance they receive, and what their health challenges are. It will feature presentations from key Johns Hopkins researchers on this topic: sociologist Kathryn Edin, economist Robert Moffitt, and epidemiologist Jacky Jennings. It will be moderated by sociologist Andrew Cherlin.

Their presentations will be followed by 10-15 minutes of Q&A.

This webinar is co-hosted by the Hopkins Population Center and PRB’s Center for Public Information on Population Research, with funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Joining the online webinar is free. Participants who choose to listen to the audio via telephone are responsible for their own standard long-distance rates.