Appl Clin Inform 2016; 07(03): 672-681
DOI: 10.4338/ACI-2016-02-RA-0028
Research Article
Schattauer GmbH

Electronic data collection in epidemiological research

The use of REDCap in the Pelotas birth cohorts
Cauane Blumenberg
1  Postgraduate Programme in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil
Aluísio JD Barros
1  Postgraduate Programme in Epidemiology, Federal University of Pelotas, Pelotas, Brazil
› Author Affiliations
Funding This article is based on data from the study „Pelotas Birth Cohort, 2004” conducted by Postgraduate Program in Epidemiology at Universidade Federal de Pelotas, with the collaboration of the Brazilian Public Health Association (ABRASCO). The 2015 follow-up assessment was supported by a grant from the Brazilian Scientific Development Council (CNPq) with resources from the Science and Technology Department, Brazilian Ministry of Health (DECIT/ SCTIE/MS). From 2009 to 2013, the Wellcome Trust supported the 2004 birth cohort study. The World Health Organization, National Support Program for Centers of Excellence (PRONEX), Brazilian National Research Council (CNPq), Brazilian Ministry of Health, and Children’s Pastorate supported previous phases of the study.
Further Information

Publication History

received: 04 March 2016

accepted: 14 June 2016

Publication Date:
19 December 2017 (online)



This paper describes the use of Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) to conduct one of the follow-up waves of the 2004 Pelotas birth cohort. The aim is to point out the advantages and limitations of using this electronic data capture environment to collect data and control every step of a longitudinal epidemiological research, specially in terms of time savings and data quality.


We used REDCap as the main tool to support the conduction of a birth cohort follow-up. By exploiting several REDCap features, we managed to schedule assessments, collect data, and control the study workflow. To enhance data quality, we developed specific reports and field validations to depict inconsistencies in real time.


Using REDCap it was possible to investigate more variables without significant increases on the data collection time, when comparing to a previous birth cohort follow-up. In addition, better data quality was achieved since negligible out of range errors and no validation or missing inconsistencies were identified after applying over 7,000 interviews.


Adopting electronic data capture solutions, such as REDCap, in epidemiological research can bring several advantages over traditional paper-based data collection methods. In favor of improving their features, more research groups should migrate from paper to electronic-based epidemiological research.

Citation: Blumenberg C, Barros AJD. Electronic data collection in epidemiological research: The use of REDCap in the Pelotas birth cohorts