There are few published standards or methodological guidelines for integrating Data Quality Assurance (DQA) protocols into large-scale health systems research trials, especially in resource-limited settings. The BetterBirth Trial is a matched-pair, cluster-randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the BetterBirth Program, which seeks to improve quality of facility-based deliveries and reduce 7-day maternal and neonatal mortality and maternal morbidity in Uttar Pradesh, India. In the trial, over 6300 deliveries were observed and over 153,000 mother-baby pairs across 120 study sites were followed to assess health outcomes. We designed and implemented a robust and integrated DQA system to sustain high-quality data throughout the trial.
We designed the Data Quality Monitoring and Improvement System (DQMIS) to reinforce six dimensions of data quality: accuracy, reliability, timeliness, completeness, precision, and integrity. The DQMIS was comprised of five functional components: 1) a monitoring and evaluation team to support the system; 2) a DQA protocol, including data collection audits and targets, rapid data feedback, and supportive supervision; 3) training; 4) standard operating procedures for data collection; and 5) an electronic data collection and reporting system. Routine audits by supervisors included double data entry, simultaneous delivery observations, and review of recorded calls to patients. Data feedback reports identified errors automatically, facilitating supportive supervision through a continuous quality improvement model.
The five functional components of the DQMIS successfully reinforced data reliability, timeliness, completeness, precision, and integrity. The DQMIS also resulted in 98.33% accuracy across all data collection activities in the trial. All data collection activities demonstrated improvement in accuracy throughout implementation. Data collectors demonstrated a statistically significant (p = 0.0004) increase in accuracy throughout consecutive audits. The DQMIS was successful, despite an increase from 20 to 130 data collectors.
In the absence of widely disseminated data quality methods and standards for large RCT interventions in limited-resource settings, we developed an integrated DQA system, combining auditing, rapid data feedback, and supportive supervision, which ensured high-quality data and could serve as a model for future health systems research trials. Future efforts should focus on standardization of DQA processes for health systems research.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier, NCT02148952. Registered on 13 February 2014.