Public Health

Research

The main goal of EPICENTRE is to undertake research that contributes to understanding HIV, TB, Chronic Disease as well as understanding the epidemiology of these conditions and evaluating the impact of programmes.

Contract
Research Services

Provide mobile data collection system

Obtain local IRB approval (for international research groups)

Set up and pilot questionnaires

Community preparation

Staff recruitment and management

Sample and laboratory management

Data cleaning

Data quality Management

Epicentre’s main goal is to undertake research that contributes to understanding the epidemiology of HIV, TB and chronic conditions as well as evaluating the impact of our programmes.

Epicentre collaborates with other research organisations and universities, throughout South Africa and globally, to conduct epidemiology and impact research. By partnering with researchers trained in social sciences and public health disciplines, we are able to develop protocols, obtain ethical approval and implement the research projects in community or clinic-based settings. Epicentre also takes responsibility for the field work and data management component of the research.

Epicentre Service Offering

Epicentre has experience and expertise in implementing research studies in workplaces, communities, hospitals and clinics in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Research Settings

Epicentre has experience and expertise in implementing research studies in workplaces, communities, hospitals and clinics in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.

Pre survey preparation

Prior to doing community-based studies, Epicentre project staff meet with the local community and obtain approval for the researchers to enter the area. For clinic or hospital-based studies, Epicentre can assist with presenting the study and obtaining approval at a provincial, district and sub district level if required.

Sample and Laboratory

Epicentre has years of experience in collecting dry blood samples, venipuncture, vaginal swabs, urine, rapid HIV tests, TB samples and many others. We are also able to process HIV testing, Viral Load, CD4, Lag testing, an extensive range of STI tests, Pregnancy, TB, HIV resistance and genotyping testing. All lab samples are linked to participant questionnaires by way of barcodes.
Processed by Global Labs and the NICD, we ensure that our lab samples reach the laboratory through a robust sample management system. This ensures that no samples are lost in transit. Our automated electronic reports verify if the samples have reached the lab from the field, in real time.
This report is then sent to our data office within 12 hours of the sample reaching the lab, on a daily basis.

Quality assurance

Epicentre has an independent Quality Assurance (QA) team that reviews data as it is collected. This allows them to:

  • Identify patterns of possible data collection problems such as questionnaire collection time being too short, too long or collected outside the designated research area
  • Audit all possible data collection errors and 10% of all field worker data collected.

Data collection tools

Our preference is to collect data electronically, however we also have paper-based surveys. With in-house capabilities, we are able to set up questionnaires with built-in constraints and skip patterns. Epicentre is also experienced in working with a number of different service providers, including Mobenzi which is our preferred mobile data service provider. Mobenzi allows for surveys to be uploaded in multiple languages, but exports the survey data file in English.

Questionnaire and focus groups

Skilled in conducting both qualitative and quantitative research, our data collectors are experienced in administering structured or semi-structured questionnaires, conducting one-on-one interviews or facilitating focus groups. Prior to data collection we arrange for the translation of instruments into the required languages and set up the questionnaires. We assist with the piloting and provide a report to facilitate the finalisation of the tools. We also record the focus group and one-on-one interviews, transcribe them and then provide a full transcript in English to the researcher for coding and analysis.

Staff recruitment and training

Epicentre has a large network of Project Managers, Supervisors, Nurses, Data Collectors, Drivers, Data Managers and other field staff based in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. We recruit staff for research projects from a national network of experienced field workers to fulfil research contracts in addition to recruiting from local and neighbouring areas. Epicentre draft staff specification based on the study requirements and relevant legislation.
All staff are trained in:

  • Good Clinical Practices (GCP) in Human Subjects Protection (HSP)
  • Quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA)
  • Safety
  • PEP
  • Methods of record keeping and the maintenance of laboratory related study files.

Data Management Team

The Epicentre Data management team have in-house skills to clean data, as it is collected, so that it is available for data analysis immediately after field work is completed. Our electronic systems flag any potential field data error and send an automated message to the data team. This allows the data team to maintain a log of all errors, so that resolutions can be audited for data integrity. Automated, weekly reports track and report on the field work progresss including field worker productivity reports, refusals, replacement and progress towards the study completion.

Partners

Epicentre has strong partnerships with CAPRISA, HEARD, SCHEMA, UCT, Tulane University, ICAP, Columbia University, NICD and the MRC. We have also received funding from the CDC, Global Fund, World Bank as well as others.

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