Case Study

Kristi Stringer
Pre-doctoral fellow, Medical Sociology

When Kristi L. Stringer, a predoctoral fellow at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, needed to carry out research involving interviewing individuals about highly sensitive health information, iSURVEY was there to help. Below, Kristi explains why iSURVEY worked so well. 

As part of Kristi’s research, she needed to interview people about topics of a very sensitive nature. Often in these situations, getting people to open up and answer truthfully is a challenge – her interviewees needed to know that their answers would be secure and confidential. Kristi explains, “I chose to use an iPad survey rather than a paper and pen survey [because] I wanted to give my participants the privacy to feel more comfortable answering honestly.”

Every tool used in academic research needs to pass the muster of an ethics board designed to protect the rights of human subjects who participate in research and to ensure the confidentiality of information obtained from research subjects. These review boards make a decision based on preservation of anonymity and data security – especially important when it comes to sensitive research topics. Since the collection of research data through tablet computers is a new territory for many institutional review boards, Kristi was uncertain as to how her IRB would react to her use of iSURVEY. To Kristi’s surprise, iSURVEY passed the board review with flying colours. “I thought the IRB (Institutional Review Board) would give me a hard time with it,” she said. “But with the security features they have laid out, it is very appropriate for academic research.”

Another big feature for Kristi was iSURVEY’s ease of use. “[Respondents] really enjoy using it versus the paper and pen, [and] the layout is really simple. Participants really enjoyed the novelty of the tablet based survey” she said. “That was one of the biggest reasons I chose iSURVEY: the layout, the readability.” She was also impressed with not having to be connected to the internet to administer her surveys, “I can administer my surveys anywhere, if I do not have internet access at the time, the survey responses are temporarily saved as binary data and are securely uploaded to the iSURVEY server when I reach a secure internet connection. This is a huge plus as it allows me to be more flexible with my participants. These are just a few of the reasons Kristi choose iSURVEY software over the free software offered by her university. 

Kristi L. Stringer is a PhD candidate, currently earning her degree in Medical Sociology. Kristi’s research focuses on how discrimination affects health outcomes among vulnerable populations. Specifically, Kristi studies the impact of stigmas among HIV+ substance users. She is currently examining the association between multiple stigmas and HIV treatment retention and medication adherence. You can find out more about Kristi’s research at or via IFARA’s website 

Kristi’s training and research is currently supported by the National Institute of Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under award number 1 F31 DA037106-01. Her research has previously been supported by The Center for Outcomes and Research Effectiveness in UAB’s Division of Preventative Medicine. The content of Kristi’s research is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or The Center for Outcomes and Research Effectiveness in UAB’s Division of Preventative Medicine.