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Enviro Research

Handheld Computer Technology Used in Environmental Research At University of Wisconsin Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

The Wisconsin Healthy Homes Initiative, in collaboration with Dane County Head Start, is conducting a 3-year study to identify and mitigate environmental asthma offenders (dust mites, cockroaches, and alternaria) as well as risks of injury and lead exposure. Current methods of collecting environmental data have been though interviewer-guided questionnaires along with home visits using time-consuming and error-prone paper-based forms. As a result, handheld computer technology (HCT) and end-user friendly software was adapted for use in this research study. The HCT being used is the TRGPro that was graciously donated by HandEra Incorporated. The Palm-based mobile data collection and reporting software (and research support) is from Perseus Development Corporation. Their software, MobileForms, was chosen because it is based on the Palm OS platform, and the software's ability to integrate well with other software packages including common statistical programs.

MobileForms, a survey application for Palm-Powered - handheld computers, was created to address the growing need for advanced mobile data collection and reporting technology. The technology allows for instant results for remote field research, a dramatically reduced timeframe between collecting and reporting the data, increased data integrity, and the elimination of data entry. MobileForms uses a simple word processing interface. The forms are stored within an Internet library, where they can be selected and downloaded by authorized handheld computer users through either a wireless or wire-based (hot sync) operation. Responses are collected and stored on the handheld device until they are transferred to the Internet SQL database once again using either the wireless or the wire-based hot sync feature.

As part of the study, consenting families undergo an environmental inspection, allergen sampling, and are randomized to one of two different models of controlling identified hazards. To date, 367 households have been screened for home inspections. Seventy children have been found to have asthma. Of those children skin tested, 78.9% were skin test positive to more than 1 relevant household antigen. MobileForms installed on the TRGPro units have resulted in the efficient collection of complete data sets with minimal error, saving valuable time. The software dramatically reduced their collection-to-reporting cycle time and increased data integrity. Acceptance of the technology by study staff and subjects has been high. An additional observed benefit is the ease of data management for statistical analysis. MobileForms has many potential applications for multi-center clinical research, which the Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine hope to utilize.

About Perseus
Perseus is leading the transition from web survey software to Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM) solutions that help organizations better understand their world. Organizations worldwide rely on Perseus solutions to better identify and meet employee, customer and partner needs, and increase profitability by creating loyal relationships. Perseus products enable business professionals to quickly and easily obtain, analyze, and manage sophisticated enterprise feedback using intuitive web-based software. Perseus SurveySolutions® is a recipient of PC Magazine's Editors' Choice award for web-survey software, and is used by over 22,000 customers worldwide including over twenty percent of the Fortune 100. Perseus is a 2003 and 2004 Inc. 500 company and Deloitte Technology Fast 500 company, and a four-time Deloitte Technology Fast 50 company. Visit for more information.


For more information, contact:

Brian Gendron
SHIFT Communications
Dwight Galler
Perseus Development Corporation
781.848.8100 x265