YAFS5 treads ‘new normal’ of fieldwork
Adapting to the challenges of the pandemic, the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) pushes through with the 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS5) and has commenced survey operations in various parts of the country.
“It is important to have updated information about the youth’s situation, not only about their reproductive health but also their mental health. With the ubiquity of social media and the still raging COVID-19, by conducting the fieldwork during this pandemic, we will be able to capture the current concerns of the youth so that programs for them can be more targeted,” said YAFS Project Coordinator Dr. Maria Midea Kabamalan, a professor at the Institute.
By design, the YAFS5 survey is collecting data from Filipinos aged 15-24 from over 14,000 randomly selected households in 974 sample barangays in the country. Given the scale of the study, the UPPI has engaged regional collaborators from various academic and research institutions, who helped select skilled interviewers and plan out survey operations amid the volatile public health situation.
The intricacies of fieldwork during the pandemic have been discussed during an ongoing series of regional training for the field personnel. Due to public health constraints, the training has had to be conducted online – a first for a nationwide research project led by the Institute. The six-day training for each regional team covers discussions of the sample selection, questionnaires, and administrative matters, and gives field interviewers time to practice interviewing.
In addition, the strict observance of minimum public health standards, including physical distancing and wearing of face masks, has been emphasized during the training. For this, the UPPI invited Dr. Bernadette Camacho of the DOH to discuss the prevention, detection, isolation, treatment, and rehabilitation strategies for COVID-19.
YAFS5 field personnel have also been encouraged to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as an added protection during fieldwork. In a memorandum issued last July 7, the Department of Health (DOH)—which also funds the YAFS5—enjoined the region-based Centers for Health Development and the DOH-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao to provide assistance for the conduct of YAFS5, including the vaccination of field interviewers and the endorsement of the study to local government units.
Meanwhile, although the UPPI has used computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI) in its survey projects in the past, this is the first time that CAPI is used for a YAFS survey. YAFS5 programmer Mr. Leo Angelo Ocampo explained how the questionnaires have been transformed into CAPI and demonstrated how to use it for more efficient interviewing.
Regional teams that had completed the training immediately proceeded with the field interviews. So far, teams from the National Capital Region, Region IV-B (MIMAROPA), Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula), Region XI (Davao), Region 12 (SOCCSKSARGEN), and Region XIII (Caraga) have started data collection, which the UPPI is closely monitoring through the regional coordinators and field supervisors.
Fieldwork for YAFS5 is expected to last until November this year, barring constraints due to community quarantines and inclement weather. Data from YAFS5 will shed light on the sexual and non-sexual risky behaviors and health of the youth, as well as their experiences during the pandemic.
YAFS5 Central Team members and regional coordinators during the Training of Trainers, July 5-9 via Zoom.