Feasibility, acceptability, and adoption of digital fingerprinting during contact investigation for tuberculosis in Kampala, Uganda: A parallel-convergent mixed-methods analysis

Elizabeth B. White, Amanda J. Meyer, Joseph M. Ggita, Diana Babirye, David Mark, Irene Ayakaka, Jessica E. Haberer, Achilles Katamba, Mari Armstrong-Hough, John Lucian Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: In resource-constrained settings, challenges with unique patient identification may limit continuity of care, monitoring and evaluation, and data integrity. Biometrics offers an appealing but understudied potential solution.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this mixed-methods study was to understand the feasibility, acceptability, and adoption of digital fingerprinting for patient identification in a study of household tuberculosis contact investigation in Kampala, Uganda.

METHODS: Digital fingerprinting was performed using multispectral fingerprint scanners. We tested associations between demographic, clinical, and temporal characteristics and failure to capture a digital fingerprint. We used generalized estimating equations and a robust covariance estimator to account for clustering. In addition, we evaluated the clustering of outcomes by household and community health workers (CHWs) by calculating intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). To understand the determinants of intended and actual use of fingerprinting technology, we conducted 15 in-depth interviews with CHWs and applied a widely used conceptual framework, the Technology Acceptance Model 2 (TAM2).

RESULTS: Digital fingerprints were captured for 75.5% (694/919) of participants, with extensive clustering by household (ICC=.99) arising from software (108/179, 60.3%) and hardware (65/179, 36.3%) failures. Clinical and demographic characteristics were not markedly associated with fingerprint capture. CHWs successfully fingerprinted all contacts in 70.1% (213/304) of households, with modest clustering of outcomes by CHWs (ICC=.18). The proportion of households in which all members were successfully fingerprinted declined over time (ρ=.30, P<.001). In interviews, CHWs reported that fingerprinting failures lowered their perceptions of the quality of the technology, threatened their social image as competent health workers, and made the technology more difficult to use.

CONCLUSIONS: We found that digital fingerprinting was feasible and acceptable for individual identification, but problems implementing the hardware and software lead to a high failure rate. Although CHWs found fingerprinting to be acceptable in principle, their intention to use the technology was tempered by perceptions that it was inconsistent and of questionable value. TAM2 provided a valuable framework for understanding the motivations behind CHWs' intentions to use the technology. We emphasize the need for routine process evaluation of biometrics and other digital technologies in resource-constrained settings to assess implementation effectiveness and guide improvement of delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11541
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Biometrics
  • Mobile phone
  • Tuberculosis
  • mHealth
  • Biometry/methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Tuberculosis/diagnosis
  • Young Adult
  • DNA Fingerprinting/methods
  • Adolescent
  • Cell Phone/instrumentation
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Uganda
  • Qualitative Research
  • Child

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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