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Effectiveness of modular approach in ensuring data quality in large-scale surveys: Evidence from National Family Health Survey – 4 (2015–2016)
Authors: Shri Kant Singh, Santosh Kumar Sharma, Md Juel Rana, Akash Porwal, and Laxmi Kant Dwivedi
Source: SSM: Population Health, Volume 19; DOI:
Topic(s): Data collection
Data quality
Country: Asia
Published: SEP 2022
Abstract: This study aims to examine the effect of administration of shorter and longer versions of questionnaires on key indicators such as age displacement, birth displacement, age heaping, and skipping questions on antenatal care (ANC) visits and use of contraceptive methods in India using National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-4 data. At the individual level, the effect of the adoption of the shorter and longer versions of the questionnaires on the age displacement of women and children and skipping of the key questions is insignificant. However, the results from the two-level logistic regression model reveal that at the primary sampling unit (PSU) level, work pressure, depending on the number of eligible women in a household, emerges as a confounder in skipping certain questions, namely ANC [1.18 (p < 0.09)] and contraceptive use [AOR = 1.17 (p < 0.05)]. To expand the coverage of NFHS in providing state- and district-level estimates since 2015, the overall sample size was increased from 88,562 households and 89,777 eligible women in 1992–93 to 6,01,509 households and 6,99,686 eligible women in 2015–16. As a strategy to reduce workload and non-sampling errors during the survey, a nested design and modular approach were adopted to provide estimates of maternal and child health indicators at the district/state level and sexual behaviour, HIV/AIDS, and women's empowerment at the state level. It was hypothesised that a longer version of the questionnaire canvassed in the state module may be detrimental to data quality issues. The findings of this study establish the effectiveness of adopting a modular approach in large-scale surveys, depending on the scale of investigation. However, the differential workload calls for expanding the duration of surveys in PSUs, where the number of eligible women is higher. State level variation in the key data quality indicators may be partially explained by differentials in the training of investigators by the agency and use of translators.