Use of World Wide Web-based directories for tracing subjects in epidemiologic studies

Malcolm M. Koo, Thomas E. Rohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

The recent availability of World Wide Web-based directories has opened up a new approach for tracing subjects in epidemiologic studies. The completeness of two World Wide Web-based directories (Canada411 and InfoSpace Canada) for subject tracing was evaluated by using a randomized crossover design for 346 adults randomly selected from respondents in an ongoing cohort study. About half (56.4%) of the subjects were successfully located by using either Canada411 or InfoSpace. Of the 43.6% of the subjects who could not be located using either directory, the majority (73.5%) were female. Overall, there was no clear advantage of one directory over the other. Although Canada411 could find significantly more subjects than InfoSpace, the number of potential matches returned by Canada411 was also higher, which meant that a longer list of potential matches had to be examined before a true match could be found. One strategy to minimize the number of potential matches per true match is to first search by InfoSpace with the last name and first name, then by Canada411 with the last name and first name, and finally by InfoSpace with the last name and first initial. Internet-based searches represent a potentially useful approach to tracing subjects in epidemiologic studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)889-894
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Volume152
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2000

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Keywords

  • Bias (epidemiology)
  • Contact tracing
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Internet
  • Longitudinal studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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