And we’re off! Hard to believe the second week is coming to a close already…this week we focused more on the technology side of the project – getting the surveys and forms uploaded and ready for the Community Health Workers to use on the tablets!
This week I learned more about the technology aspect of our project. We are using a platform called ODK to digitize our surveys. Another U of M student helped to create these surveys and we have been playing around with it to understand the program and see how easy it is for the Community Health Workers to navigate. ODK has been really helpful to various projects around the world and I’m intrigued to see how it will work for our project. We still need to get the program on to all of the tablets so that we can use them out in the rural areas, but hopefully that will be done soon. We’ve done some preliminary playing around with it on one of the tablets, so that’s been helpful in shaping our game plan as we get ready to train.
I also learned a lot about how research ethics works here in India. There’s an Indian Council of Medical Research (the ICMR) and all research projects need to have an Ethics Committee, which has to be formed by people of different professional backgrounds – lawyers, sociologists, clinicians, professors, laymen, etc. It was very neat to see the two aspects of informed consent in our research and how they differ but ultimately converge on a goal of ethical research practices.
The highlight of my week this week was the trip to the village of Godapiasal, outside of Salboni, which is about 3.5 hours away from Kolkata! It is always my favorite part to work directly with the people we want to work with and we want to help. After a rather uneventful journey in the early (but really sunny!) hours of the day, we reached the village around 9:30am and saw the building in which iKure clinics are conducted. The village is near the OCL Factory (a cement factory) and the community health workers and the government ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers serve the people in this area. We spoke with some of the workers on Thursday to get their opinions on how they felt about the surveys’ usability and ease on the tablets. They all really liked the idea of being able to use the tablets (there were many tales of lost notes due to rain), and we got to troubleshoot with them about how they felt about the survey questions.
We will eventually be conducting trainings on how they should administer the surveys to study subjects, but it was exciting to see and hear about how much they liked the platform for the research. It also gave us some important insight into some facets we can fix before officially training the CHW in the near future.
Pictures from our day trip to Godapiasal:
Overall it was a fantastic trip and I’m very excited for more visits out “to the field” as it’s been called! This week is a working Saturday week, so it was a long workweek, but definitely filled with fun adventures and lessons to make our work progress better…looking forward to the adventures that next week will bring!