Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of death worldwide. Efficient monitoring and surveillance are cornerstones to track progress of NCD burden, related risk factors, and policy interventions. The systematic monitoring of risk factors to generate accurate and timely data is essential for a country’s ability to prioritize essential resources and make sound policy decisions to address the growing NCD burden.

With increasing access and use of mobile phones globally, opportunities exist to explore the feasibility of using mobile phone technology as an interim method to collect data and supplement household surveys. Such technologies have the potential to allow for efficiencies in producing timely, affordable, and accurate data to monitor trends, and augment traditional health surveys with new, faster mobile phone surveys.

The Bloomberg Data for Health initiative aims to strengthen the collection and use of critical public health information. One of the components of the initiative aims to explore innovative approaches to NCD surveillance, including the use of mobile phone surveys for NCDs. The main objectives of this component are to assess the feasibility, quality, and validity of nationally representative NCD Mobile Phone Surveys and propose a globally standardized protocol. The specific objectives are to:

  • Implement mobile phone surveys in ten countries and support face-to-face STEPS surveys in six overlapping countries
  • Compare findings from the two methodologies

The NCD Mobile Phone Survey is a nationally representative stratified survey of adults 18 years of age and older. The survey uses standardized instruments and procedures reviewed and approved by international experts. This includes a core questionnaire with optional questions, sample design utilizing random digit dialing, data management procedures, and data collection using single or mixed-mode technology such as interactive voice response (IVR), short message service (SMS), and computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). The implementation process consists of five stages: 1) engagement and orientation; 2) mobile phone technology and pretesting; 3) data collection; 4) data management; and 5) data release and use. Details on each stage are presented in the NCD Mobile Phone Survey Process Chart (see Figure 1).


This manual introduces the questions on the NCD Mobile Phone Survey. These questions reflect those currently used by global surveillance systems, including the WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance (STEPS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Tobacco Questions for Surveys (TQS). This guide presents definitions and instructions for administering the core questions along with two sampling questions that will be tested in the initial countries. Lastly, the manual presents the indicators that can provide information on NCDs and supplement results of key behavior risk factors assessed in STEPS and other national surveillance systems.

The NCD Mobile Phone Survey includes 18 core questions on the following topics:

  • Demographics
  • Tobacco Use
  • Alcohol Use
  • Diet (Fruit and Vegetable Consumption)
  • Diet (Salt Consumption)
  • Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes

Countries conducting the NCD Mobile Phone Survey will need to adapt the questionnaire to suit their needs; this may include deletions or insertions to the topics included above or the inclusion of questions from other topics. Question wording will also need to be modified to suit the mode of data collection for either IVR, SMS, or CATI.