Before beginning to enter data, you need to provide Epi Info with a questionnaire that describes the data to be entered. The ENTER program then uses the questionnaire to construct a data file, called a .REC file, automatically.
When you start the Word Processor, EPED, you see:
Above the green screen, there is a list of function keys that can be used. At the bottom of the window, the following information is displayed:
- UNTITLED - The name of the document that you are editing.
- EPED - The component of Epi Info that you are in.
- 426184 - The amount of memory available. This isn't important unless it gets extremely low.
- L1 - The line of the data file the cursor is in.
- C1 - The column of the data file the cursor is in.
- A series of letters that indicate the status of important settings: WW, TXT, or QES for the current mode--Word Wrap for word processing, TXT for line-oriented documents such as computer programs, and QES to make an Epi Info questionnaire. After this may appear: INS for Insert mode ON; OVR for Overwrite mode ON; IND for AutoIndent mode ON; JST for Right/Left Justification ON.
When a questionnaire is being developed for use in ENTER, a few conventions are used to tell the program where to create data entry fields or variables and what kind of data to accept at these locations. ENTER will give names to the fields. In the ANALYSIS program, the same names are called variable names and are used to refer to particular data items.
There is a special command in EPED to make it easy to insert fields in your questionnaire. To see it in action, type <Ctrl-Q Q> (hold down the control key, type Q once, and then let go of the control key and type a single Q). A menu of field types is displayed:
To insert one in your questionnaire, highlight the one you want and press Enter. For some field types, EPED may ask about the length of the field or the number of digits. After you have provided this information, the field will be inserted in the questionnaire at the current position of the cursor.
Here are the field types:
Data Type Form Description Numeric fields #
Only numbers or spaces will be accepted. If nothing is entered, the result will be a blank, which is interpreted as a missing value and displayed as a period (.) in ANALYSIS. The number of digits is indicated by the number of "#"'s. If a decimal point is given, the field will be in "fixed decimal" format, allowing exactly the indicated number of digits to the right of the decimal point. For monetary amounts from 000.00 to 999.99, for example, ###.## would be the appropriate field. A number field can be up to 14 characters long, counting the decimal point as 1 character. Numbers containing decimals and any number field containing more than four digits are "real" (floating point) numbers. Fields of less than 5 digits, without decimals, are integers within Epi Info. Don't use the less than and greater than (<,>) symbols as they cause Epi Info to misbehave. Upper-case fields <A>
These are general-purpose fields, but entries will be converted to upper case. The length is indicated by the number of characters between the "less-than" and "greater-than" symbols, including the upper case "A". Note: If you enter lower-case A's, lower-case letters will be accepted. Text fields _
Any printable character can be entered in this field. Blank fields (spaces) are interpreted as missing data in ANALYSIS. The length of the variable or field will be the number of underline characters used. The maximum length of a text field is 80 characters. A "Yes/No" field <Y> Only Y, N, and SPACE or Enter are accepted. Spaces or the Enter key are interpreted as missing data in ANALYSIS. Entries are converted to upper case after they are entered. Yes/No fields are always one character in length. U.S. and European Date fields <mm/dd/yy>
Dates will be checked when entered to be sure they are valid. When entering data, you type only the numbers in the date; the program provides the separating slash marks. When creating a questionnaire, be sure to type the field format exactly as they appear here. Long-distance phone number <long distance> Entered as (xxx)xxx-xxxx, where the x's are digits. Local phone number <phonenum> Entered as xxx-xxxx where the x's are digits. We recommend that you don't use this field. Instead, use the long-distance phone number. Today's-date or date-of-last-change field <today>
This automatically enters the date when the computer record was last saved. If the record is later edited and saved again, the contents of the field will be the latest date on which the record was saved. The three forms allow the field to contain month and day only, or month, day, and two-digit year, or month, day, and four-digit year. If you plan on using this field, we recommend that you use the version with the four-digit year. Sequential identification number <IDNUM>
This is a special-purpose field that maintains sequential identification numbers. The first number in the file will be number 1, and each succeeding record will have an IDNUM one higher than the previous record. This field is used to maintain unique identification numbers automatically. The number of digits is the number of characters between the brackets, including the letters "IDNUM," and must be 5 or more.
Since IDNUM fields are filled automatically, the cursor skips them during data entry. If you wish to set the value of an <IDNUM> field to a number other than 1 in the first record of a file, use the up arrow key to enter the field and type the desired number before saving the record. The first IDNUM in a file can also be set by using commands in a .CHK file.
You should not use the underline, number (#) sign, or less-than or greater-than characters in the questionnaire except in the formats shown above, as the program will think you are trying to create an incorrect field. Specifically, < > and unpaired ">" or "<" signs are not allowed. The fields with special words such as <today/yy> must be entered exactly as shown to contain the date or telephone number information correctly.
Creating a Database
Here is a sample session. Run Epi Info and then choose the word processor, EPED. Let's set up a simple database that contains four items:
- MRN (medical record number)
- DOB (date of birth)
OK, to get started, type MRN and then four spaces. The MRN is normally an eight digit number. Some MRN don't use all 8 digits (e.g., 1234567) and this can cause problems with searches in some programs. What happens is that that when you search for 1234567, it matches with 12345671, 12345672, 91234567 and others. One solution to this problem is to use a text field to store the MRN in and enter the leading zero when entering a new MRN. So, type <aaaaaaaa> and press ENTER:
Now, let's enter the field for date of birth. Since the year 2000 is right around the corner, let's use a four digit year. You want to do this so that you can search for patients that are younger than 20 by comparing to the year 1980. If you used a two-digit year, you couldn't tell if someone born in 01 is 1 or 101 years old (in the year 2001). Type DOB, four spaces, <mm/dd/yyyy> and press ENTER:
That wasn't too hard. Now type Weight, a space, ### and press ENTER:
The pound signs, "#", will guaranty that only numbers can be entered. Enter the sex field by typing Sex, four spaces, <A> and press ENTER:
All the fields are now set, and the questionnaire needs to be saved. Press the F9 key, and you are asked to name the file. The file name must be a short file name with no more than 8 characters. Also, the name shouldn't have any spaces or punctuation (except minus signs) in the name. The file name must have the extension .QES. This tell Epi Info that the file is a questionnaire. For the file name, type Tutor1.qes and press ENTER.
The questionnaire is save and you're ready to start enter records into the database (in the next chapter).
Introducing Epi Info | Getting Started With Epi Info | Entering and Editing Data in a Database