Chapter 12. Data Sets and Forms

Table of Contents

12.1. What is a data set?
12.2. What is a data entry form?
12.2.1. Types of data entry forms
12.3. From paper to electronic form - Lessons learned
12.3.1. Identify self-contained data elements
12.3.2. Leave calculations and repetitions to the computer - capture raw data only

This chapter discusses data sets and forms, what types of forms are available and describes best practises for the process of moving from paper based to electronic forms.

12.1. What is a data set?

All data entry in DHIS2 is organised through the use of data sets. A data set is a collection of data elements grouped together for data collection, and in the case of distributed installs they also define chunks of data for export and import between instances of DHIS2 (e.g. from a district office local installation to a national server). Data sets are not linked directly to the data values, only through their data elements and frequencies, and as such a data set can be modified, deleted or added at any point in time without affecting the raw data already captured in the system, but such changes will of course affect how new data will be collected.

A data set has a period type which controls the data collection frequency, which can be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, six-monthly, or yearly. Both the data elements to include in the data set and the period type is defined by the user, together with a name, short name, and code. If calculated fields are needed in the collection form (and not only in the reports), then indicators can be assigned to the data set as well, but these can only be used in custom forms (see further down).

In order to use a data set to collect data for a specific organisation unit the user must assign the organisation unit to the data set. This mechanism controls which organisation units can use which data sets, and at the same time defines the target values for data completeness (e.g. how many health facilities in a district are expected to submit the RCH data set every month).

A data element can belong to multiple data sets, but this requires careful thinking as it may lead to overlapping and inconstant data being collected if e.g. the data sets are given different frequencies and are used by the same organisation units.