EpiBasket: how e-commerce tools can improve epidemiological preparedness.

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Should an emerging infectious disease outbreak or an environmental disaster occur, the collection of epidemiological data must start as soon as possible after the event's onset. Questionnaires are usually built de novo for each event, resulting in substantially delayed epidemiological responses that are detrimental to the understanding and control of the event considered. Moreover, the public health and/or academic institution databases constructed with responses to different questionnaires are usually difficult to merge, impairing necessary collaborations. We aimed to show that e-commerce concepts and software tools can be readily adapted to enable rapid collection of data after an infectious disease outbreak or environmental disaster. Here, the 'customers' are the epidemiologists, who fill their shopping 'baskets' with standardised questions. METHODS: For each epidemiological field, a catalogue of questions is constituted by identifying the relevant variables based on a review of the published literature on similar circumstances. Each question is tagged with information on its source papers. Epidemiologists can then tailor their own questionnaires by choosing appropriate questions from this catalogue. The software immediately provides them with ready-to-use forms and online questionnaires. All databases constituted by the different EpiBasket users are interoperable, because the corresponding questionnaires are derived from the same corpus of questions. RESULTS: A proof-of-concept prototype was developed for Knowledge, Attitudes and Practice (KAP) surveys, which is one of the fields of the epidemiological investigation frequently explored during, or after, an outbreak or environmental disaster. The catalogue of questions was initiated from a review of the KAP studies conducted during or after the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic. CONCLUSION: Rapid collection of standardised data after an outbreak or environmental disaster can be facilitated by transposing the e-commerce paradigm to epidemiology, taking advantage of the powerful software tools already available.
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Emerg Health Threats J, 2013, 6, pp.19748
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Weijia Xing, Gilles Hejblum, Alain-Jacques Valleron. EpiBasket: how e-commerce tools can improve epidemiological preparedness.. Emerg Health Threats J, 2013, 6, pp.19748. 〈inserm-00923828〉

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