Questionnaire Design


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He never does a proper thing without giving an improper reason for it. - George Bernard Shaw

Questionnaire Design: 

Questionnaire Design


Objectives To understand: Objectives of questionnaires Advantages and disadvantages Design of questionnaires Type of questions used Common problems and pitfalls

What is a questionnaire?: 

What is a questionnaire? An instrument (form) to collect answers to questions collect factual data gathers information or measures A series of written questions/items in a fixed, rational order. A questionnaire is a research instrument consisting of a series of questions and other prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents

Why using a questionnaire?: 

Why using a questionnaire? A well designed questionnaire: Gives accurate and relevant information to your research question Minimises potential sources of bias Will more likely be completed ?As simple and focused as possible

Advantages of questionnaires: 

Advantages of questionnaires Can reach a large number of people relatively easily and economically Provide quantifiable answers Relatively easy to analyse

Disadvantages of questionnaires: 

Disadvantages of questionnaires Provides only limited insight into problem Limited response allowed by questions Maybe not the right questions are asked Varying response Misunderstanding/misinterpretation Need to get it right first time Hard to chase after missing data

Types of Questionnaire: 

Types of Questionnaire Face to face Telephone By post E-mail/Internet Self-administrated Interviewer -administrated

Self-administered questionnaire: 

Self-administered questionnaire Advantages: Cheap and easy to administer Preserves confidentiality Completed at respondent's convenience No influence by interviewer

Self-administered questionnaire: 

Self-administered questionnaire Disadvantages: Low response rate Questions can be misunderstood No control by interviewer Time and resouces loss

Interview-administered questionnaire: 

Interview-administered questionnaire Advantages: Participation by illiterate people Clarification of ambiguity Quick answers

Interview-administered questionnaire: 

Interview-administered questionnaire Disadvantages: Interviewer bias Needs more resources Only short questionnaires possible Especially on telephone Difficult for sensitive issues

Stages in designing a questionnaire (1): 

Stages in designing a questionnaire (1) Planning the study: Decide on goals Identify risk factors for getting bitten by dogs Know the subject Literature, experts on dog bites Formulate a hypothesis Postmen more likely to get bitten by dogs than the normal population Define information needed to test hypothesis Occupation, owning dog, outdoor activities, attitude towards dogs

Stages in designing a questionnaire (2): 

Stages in designing a questionnaire (2) Determine study population: Know the respondents Occupation Special sensitivities Education Ethnic Language ?Questionnaire needs to be adapted to your population, not the opposite!

Stages in designing a questionnaire (3): 

Stages in designing a questionnaire (3) Design questions: Content of the questions Format of the questions Presentation and layout Coding schedule (if appropriate) Pilot and refine questionnaire

What makes a well designed questionnaire?: 

What makes a well designed questionnaire? Good appearance easy on the eye Short and simple Relevant and logical ? High response rate ? Easy data summarisation and analysis

Basic Rules: 

Basic Rules On first page Return address Study title in bold On all pages Identifying mark/ unique identifier Numbered items Page numbers Directions in bold Self-addressed envelope!!

Question order: 

Question order Decide on order of items/questions Easy ? difficult General ? particular Factual ? abstract Where to place sensitive questions? Be aware of ordering effects!

Question order (2): 

Question order (2) Group questions by topic/ response options Starting questions Simple With closed format Relevant to main subject Non-offending Neither demographic nor personal questions Don’t put most important item last

Questionnaire introduction: 

Questionnaire introduction Covering letter/ interview introduction Who you are/ you work for Why you are investigating Where you obtained the respondent’s name How and where you can be contacted Guarantee of confidentiality Length of interview (be honest) ? Usefulness of study should be clear to all respondents

Content of Questions: 

Content of Questions Clear focus on research question Avoid sidetracking Avoid unnecessary information Demographic information Contact information (if non-anonymised)

Format of Questions: 

Format of Questions Adjust to responding audience Professionals vs. public Middle class vs. prisoners Keep sentences simple and short Define key words (“fully vaccinated”) Remember option “don’t know”

Format of Questions: 

Format of Questions Ask for one information at a time Do you own a dog or have frequent contacts with dogs? Yes  No  Use mutually exclusive and exhaustive answer options Vertical order of answer options

Be accurate: 

Be accurate Do you often touch dogs? Yes  No  vs. How often did you touch a dog during the past 3 months? Once  Twice  Three times or more  Not at all  Don´t know 


Bias Bias = systematic differences in the measurement of a response

Information Bias: 

Information Bias Recall bias Cases more likely to remember than controls Observer bias Different interviewer – different interpretations Different interpretation of similar questions Reduce by structured questionnaire

Non-response bias: 

Non-response bias Those who respond are different from those who do not Telephone interviews: more females, elderly Reduce Ensure high response rate Random choice of interview partners Correct during analysis (eg age, sex)

Format of questions : 

Format of questions Two main question formats Closed format ? forced choice Yes ? Always ? No ? Sometimes ? Don’t know ? Never ? Open format ? free text What is your most distressing symptom? Please describe: ________________________________________________________________________________________________

Open or Closed?: 

Open or Closed? Closed Advantages: Simple and quick Reduces discrimination against less literate Easy to code, record, analyse Easy to compare Easy to report results

Closed questions: 

Closed questions Disadvantages: Restricted number of possible answers Loss of information Possible compromise: Insert field „others“

Open questions: 

Open questions Advantages: Not directive Allows exploration of issues to generate hypothesis qualitative research, focus groups, trawling questionnaires Used even if no comprehensive range of alternative choices Good for exploring knowledge and attitudes Detailed and unexpected answers possible

Open questions: 

Open questions Disadvantages: Interviewer bias Time-consuming Coding problems Difficult to analyse! Difficult to compare groups

Closed Questions: 

Closed Questions Straightforward response What is your age in years? ___ years How long have you owned a dog? ___ years What is your sex (gender)? Male ? Female ? Did you stay in Hotel X? Yes ? No ? Don’t know ?

Closed Questions: 

2. Checklist Which of the following outdoor activities did you do last week? Running ? Walking ? Hiking ? Cycling ? Swimming ? Closed Questions

Closed Questions: 

Closed Questions 3. Rating scale Did you do use sunscreen during the following outdoor activities during the past six months? Always Sometimes Seldomly Never Running ? ? ? ? Walking ? ? ? ? Cycling ? ? ? ?

Closed Questions: 

Closed Questions 4. Rating scale Numerical How useful would you think that information on the risk of biting from stray dogs would be? (please circle) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Not at all useful Very useful Analogue How much is your pain severe (put the tick on the line) 0 10

Closed Questions: 

Closed Questions 5. Scales for measuring attitude (Lickert) Stray dogs carry a higher risk of rabies No, I strongly disagree ? No, I disagree quite a lot ? No, I disagree just a little ? I’m not sure about this ? Yes, I agree just a little ? Yes, I agree quite a lot ? Yes, I strongly agree ?

Problems and Pitfalls: 

Problems and Pitfalls Avoid questions that ask two things at once - you won’t know which ‘bit’ people are answering: Have you ever had stomach ache and diarrhoea? Ambiguity..... Do you go to the woods a lot?

Problems and Pitfalls: 

Problems and Pitfalls Avoid jargon/abbreviations/slang How often do you get up at night to DW (Drink Water) Avoid not mutually exclusive options What age are you? 16-20 ? 20-25 ? 25-30 ? 35-40 ?

Problems and Pitfalls: 

Problems and Pitfalls Avoid leading questions Do you think that the food in the hotel made you sick? Did the hotel staff seem unhygenic to you? Do you agree that the hospital staff were close to exhaustion? Avoid making questionnaire too long Typographical / spelling errors

Questionnaire Validation: 

Questionnaire Validation Use or adapt existing questionnaires Validated (and possibly harmonised) New questionnaires Not validated Needs to be tested (pilot)

Piloting and Evaluation: 

Piloting and Evaluation Pilot with a similar group of people to your intended subjects Highlights problems before starting Effects of alternative wording Overall impression on respondents and interviewers Final polishing after several amendments

Presentation and layout: 

Presentation and layout Clear consistent layout Adequate space to answer Large font size Appropriate page breaks Avoid experimental layouts fancy logos printed on recycled paper/is an equal opportunity employer etc

Presentation and layout: 

Presentation and layout Using colour or printing questionnaire on coloured paper may help Use filter questions, if necessary Give clear instructions about how to answer the questions

Coding Schedule: 

Coding Schedule Questionnaire can be pre-coded Quicker and easier data entry Examples: Male ? 1 Ill ? 1 Female ? 2 Not ill ? 0 Don’t know ? 3 Don’t know ? 9 Single ? 1 Separated ? 3 Married ? 2 Divorced ? 4 Widowed ? 5 Don’t know ? 9


Summary A well designed questionnaire: Will give appropriate data which allow to answer your research question Will minimise potential sources of bias, thus increasing the validity of the questionnaire Will much more likely be completed

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