Turkmenistan preparing for second STEPS survey on NCDs risk factors


On 5–9 February 2018, WHO in collaboration with experts in the field of surveillance of noncommunicable disease (NCD) risk factors, conducted a 5-day training in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan to prepare field workers for data collection for the upcoming second round of the STEPwise approach to surveillance (STEPS) survey. STEPS is a WHO-recommended representative study on the prevalence and patterns of NCD risk factors in populations. The first STEPS survey was conducted in 2013.

Curriculum tailored for Turkmenistan

The objectives of the training included:

  • how to use an Android platform for data collection;
  • how to conduct a systematic sample of households;
  • how to make the choice of the respondent from all family members eligible to participate;
  • how to conduct interviews;
  • how to observe the ethics of research;
  • how to register information on mobile devices;
  • how to properly perform the physical measurements;
  • how to perform glucose and lipid profile analysis in capillary blood, as well as qualitative determination of cotinine in urine samples and the quantitative analysis of sodium and creatinine in urine;
  • how to accurately keep records of conducted interviews.

The field supervisors received additional training on:

  • ensuring quality control of all field processes, including questionnaires, other forms and samples;
  • monitoring of data collection process using Android devices;
  • consideration of completed questionnaires;
  • following-up on interviews;
  • solving problems on the ground.

A 1-day field pilot survey was conducted after the training in Ashgabat, which aimed to assess:

  • the applicability of questionnaires in the field;
  • respondents’ feedback on survey procedures;
  • the time required to administer each questionnaire;
  • the issues that may arise during the field work (which were clarified during the closing session of the training).

About STEPS in Turkmenistan

The instrument used for the STEPS survey in Turkmenistan is the one developed and recommended by WHO, adapted for the country, and which will also include 6 additional modules on mental health, tobacco control policy implementation, oral health, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cervical cancer and traumatism. The survey will be conducted on a representative sample of 4320 respondents, aged 18–69 years old. This round will also include the validation of the prevalence of tobacco use among the adult population by qualitative determination of cotinine in respondents’ urine samples.

The data obtained will be used for a comparative analysis with baseline results, gathered by the STEPS survey in 2013; for monitoring the trends in prevalence of NCD risk factors among the population; and for assessing progress on NCD control measures in Turkmenistan.

The STEPS survey is implemented by the Ministry of Health and Medical Industry of Turkmenistan, with the support of WHO/Europe and the WHO Country Office in Turkmenistan.