The Centers for Disease Control is readying a feasibility study of conducting population health surveys via consumers’ smartphones.

Initially, respondents reached on their phones through a text message would be asked to answer some basic demographic and general health questions, and specific questions about tobacco and alcohol use, CDC explains in a notice available here.

“New mobile communications technologies provide a unique opportunity for innovation in public health surveillance,” according to the notice. “Text messaging and smartphone Web access are immediate, accessible and anonymous, a combination of features that could make smartphones ideal for the ongoing research, surveillance, and evaluation of risk behaviors and health conditions, as well as targeted dissemination of information.”

Consumers would be contacted via a national random digit dial sample of phone numbers from cell phone exchanges. The target audience for the English-speaking survey is consumers 18 to 65 years old with a smartphone. They initially will receive a text message inviting them to participate and those who agree will receive messages with one survey question at a time.

CDC in the notice requests approval from the Office of Management and Budget to conduct the survey for one year.

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