Professor JG Hakim
Professor Rumbidzayi Gadhula
University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences (UZCHS)
Research Electronic Database Capture (REDCap), is a database that facilitates research administration and management. The processes that are carried out through REDCap include:
- creating surveys
- sending out surveys to respondents
- capturing responses to surveys
- analyzing the data from the respondents
- providing reporting for data.
The data is captured in a database format enabling for search of particular records and designing multiple survey forms for a research study.
Improving and increasing regionally and locally relevant research at the UZCHS is a key MEPI Zimbabwe theme. This requires access to reputable information sources. To meet this demand, MEPI Zimbabwe designed and setup a scalable network that includes e-resources available from the local area network (LAN) and the Internet across the three medical school campuses. Once this was setup, it was important to find means that would catalyse research and support the development of clinical registries and capture research data.
The development of clinical registries and the capture of research data is cumbersome and time consuming and requires a system that allows:
- Data management
- Data retention is important for researchers.
- Data re-use of data
- Survey tool re-use and sharing
- Access control for the research database
REDCap was identified as a tool with potential for addressing these needs. In addition REDCap
- was developed by an academic institution for research administration, and
- is available for free through signing an agreement with Vanderbilt University, the developers of the database.
Once installed on a server, REDCap is accessible through a web browser and a login account. A stable and reliable network is important to increase accessibility and availability of the system. The institution has increased potential for research as data is available in a central repository and users can share and re-use information such as survey tools amongst themselves.
Once the solution was identified, an agreement was reached with Vanderbilt University and the UZCHS. Installation files were downloaded from the Vanderbilt website, and installed on one of the servers on the network. A few technical challenges were experienced but these were resolved through subscription to the REDCap user group. One of our partners, the University of Colorado Denver (UCD) provided assistance in training our Cardiovascular, Rheumatic Heart Diseases Strategies, CHRIS, scholars on how to use REDCap. The online demonstration videos that come with REDCap have also been useful for self-teaching. The scholars who have been trained have been very active in using REDCap for their studies.
Our Monitoring and Evaluation surveys, and all ICT and e-learning training surveys are developed and analysed using REDCap. The table below shows some of the activities on REDCap by CHRIS scholars.
Table 1 REDCap activities
- As the demand for REDCap is increasing and the uptake has been good, we plan on making REDCap accessible remotely. This will enable users to work from home as well as when they are travelling.
- The valuable data in REDCap continues to increase, and will continue to increase as research activities increase and users become more confident of its usefulness in research. For this reason, we are currently backing up data to an external drive; we plan on revising our data backup plan from using an external hard disk to replicate to an online backup server.
- We are currently working on identifying other resources to strengthen and sustain our training in e-resources, including REDCap for all scholars, faculty and students, as the percentage of users trained thus is very low. This will improve relevant research by facilitating more tools and skills amongst faculty staff and students.
- We also plan on synchronizing the training in REDCap with training in statistical data analysis to increase uptake as well as to direct the training to those who need it most.
- Embark online tutorials for REDcap, other similar applications and statistical packages such as Survey Monkey, SPSS, Epi Info, STATA and R plus used in research and statistical data analysis.
- Formulate research clusters, which emphasize the use of REDcap and Statistical packages.