Enabling distributed electronic research data collection for a rural Appalachian tobacco cessation study

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Tobacco use is increasingly prevalent among vulnerable populations, such as people living in rural Appalachian communities. Owing to limited access to a reliable internet service in such settings, there is no widespread adoption of electronic data capture tools for conducting community-based research. By integrating the REDCap data collection application with a custom synchronization tool, the authors have enabled a workflow in which field research staff located throughout the Ohio Appalachian region can electronically collect and share research data. In addition to allowing the study data to be exchanged in near-real-time among the geographically distributed study staff and centralized study coordinator, the system architecture also ensures that the data are stored securely on encrypted laptops in the field and centrally behind the Ohio State University Medical Center enterprise firewall. The authors believe that this approach can be easily applied to other analogous study designs and settings.

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