This Working Paper includes two studies, the first one by Harpham, Huttly, Wilson and de Wet entitled 'Linking Public Issues with Private Troubles: Panel Studies in Developing Countries', the second by Hill on 'Reducing Attrition in Panel Studies in Developing Countries'.
The objectives of the first study are to identify challenges that arise in panel studies, and to give examples of how these have been addressed in resource-constrained environments. The main issues considered are: the development of a conceptual framework which links macro and micro contexts; sampling the cohort in a cost-effective way; tracking individuals; ethics and data management and analysis. Panel studies require long term funding, a stable institution and an acceptance that there will be limited value for money in terms of results from early stages, with greater benefits accumulating in the study's mature years.
In panel studies in developing countries, attrition or loss to follow-up is mostly due to respondents moving. Attrition can cause bias if it is selective, and efforts should be made to track respondents. This can be costly and difficult as populations in developing countries are often highly mobile, infrastructure is poor, structures frequently change and formal address systems and population records rarely exist. In the second part of this Working Paper, the experiences from panel studies in developing countries are reviewed in terms of the importance of attrition, the importance of tracking respondents on reducing attrition and then makes recommendations for setting up systems to track respondents in developing county settings. Tracking can reduce attrition by up to 45%, and is feasible if procedures are locally appropriate, well planned, involve the community, collect as much locating data as possible, criteria are explicit, tracking is done and at regular intervals, and interviewers are well trained, supervised and motivated.
ISBN 1-904427-04-9, 49 pp.