Tools for assessing perceptions and uncovering influence
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Tools for Assessing Perceptions and Uncovering Influence. Jim Dearing Center for Health Dissemination and Implementation Research Kaiser Permanente Colorado Synergy Project for Research, Practice and Transformation January 10-12, 2010, Albuquerque NM.

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Tools for Assessing Perceptions and Uncovering Influence

Jim Dearing

Center for Health Dissemination and Implementation Research

Kaiser Permanente Colorado

Synergy Project for Research, Practice and Transformation

January 10-12, 2010, Albuquerque NM

Session Objective:To help you understand methods of data collection and measures for the assessment of perception and influence

Formative evaluation is a type of applied research that is conducted prior to the introduction of an innovation to increase the likelihood of achieving scale

Formative Evaluationof Two Types

  • Learning about the innovation

  • Learning about potential adopters

Learning about the Innovation

  • Is based in the assessment of perception

    • Whose perception most counts?

    • From what other types of stakeholders might we want to gather data about perception?

Learning about the Innovation

  • How can we learn of perceptions?

  • Two methods of data-collection

    • Interviews with open-ended response categories

    • Questionnaires with closed-ended response categories

  • Under what conditions might we prefer to collect data by interview vs. questionnaire?

Interviews are Preferable When

  • Interviewees are very high-ranking, few in number, when the topic is especially sensitive, or when we have reason to doubt that standard attributes will well-represent the characteristics of the innovation

  • Always pretest your interview protocol

  • Is this human subjects research?

    • IRB

Collection of Data via Interviews has Its Downside

  • Real-time jotting down of comments

    • 2nd person?

  • Digital recording

    • Transcription, training, coding into attribute categories, organizing of data, analysis of frequencies, reporting

A Questionnaire can be Brief

  • Compatibility

  • Cost

  • Simplicity

  • Adaptability

  • Effectiveness

  • Observability

  • Trialability

Simple Tallies of Responses can be Insightful

  • The more respondents the better

    • staff perception, staff portrayals, potential adopter perception

    • which of these three types of respondents is most important?

  • Use mean scores per attribute

    • Whether for creating attribute matrices or going straight to an attribute profile (1x7 data representation per innovation)

Tools for Assessing and Comparing Innovations

  • Attribute matrix, innovation profile, and potential for adoption (PAR) score are simple ways of organizing numerical data

    • purpose is standardization, diagnosis, improvement, comparison

      Dearing JW, Meyer G (1994). An exploratory tool for predicting adoption decisions. Science Communication 16(1):43-57.


  • Do you have one priority innovation that you’re considering for scale-up?

    • what sorts of feedback have you gotten to-date about it, and from what type of stakeholders?

  • How do you decide who to collect formative evaluation data from?

    • Do you sample from the target population and if so, how?

Does All This Suggest Too Much Rigor?

  • Formative evaluation is usually done with small numbers of people (even questionnaires)

  • These means of learning about the innovation are meant to supplement other means of helping you decide which innovations are ready

  • You don’t need to overcome bias but you do want to understand it

Learning about Potential Adopters

  • Data-collection can be done in one of four ways:

    • informant interviews

    • observation

    • sociometric survey

    • self-report

      All for assessing social influence

What Difference Does It Make if We Work with Influentials?

  • Look at the degree of “reach” that people have in influence networks

A typical KP Colorado employee’s 2-step network neighborhood

An established KP Colorado employee’s 2-step network neighborhood

A KP Colorado bridging individual’s 2-step network neighborhood

Learning about Potential Adopters

  • Informant interviews (snowball process)

    • suited for large social systems

    • identify a few informants with broad knowledge of many others (1st round interviews)

    • ask their opinion of whom among potential adopters they think are looked to by others (2nd round interviews, beginning of data-collection)

    • 3rd round interviews, 4th round interviews, etc

    • stop when no new names are being generated

Learning about Potential Adopters

  • Observation

    • suited to small social systems

    • train knowledgeable observers to recognize the behaviors associated with social influence

      • what are these?

    • recording sheets (roster format)

Learning about Potential Adopters

  • Sociometric survey

    • who-to-whom questions

  • Well-suited to medium size social systems

  • Simple administration, simple data-entry

  • Wholly different form of relational data as a result

  • Best method for identifying and representing influence

  • Partner with a grad student?

Learning about Potential Adopters

  • Self-report survey

    • large social systems (marketing research)

    • lower inherent validity but validated instruments still available

    • less intrusive

    • more typical types of questions

  • Partner with a grad student?

Working Through Opinion Leaders

  • Does intervention with opinion leaders work to speed and spread the scale-up of innovations?

    • Yes, generally efficacious

    • Depends on how you recruit them

    • Depends on what you ask them to do

Recruitment & the Request

  • Your appeal should be normative in nature

  • Ask them to continue to act with the best interests of the network in mind

  • To evaluate the pros and cons of innovations communicated to them

  • To talk, to refer, to suggest, all within their own range of everyday behaviors

In Sum

  • I have married an outstanding woman. I owe all of my accomplishments to her – she is brilliant, patient, orderly and neat, and sexy beyond words. And as a mother, she sets the example for all professional, hard working women.

In Sum

  • Formative data-collection can be conducted to improve the likelihood that your innovation can reach more potential adopters, more rapidly, and produce positive perceptions among them

    • a range of tools exist for measurement of both personal perceptions and social influence

[email protected] JW (2009). Applying diffusion of innovation theory to intervention development, Research on Social Work Practice 19: 503-518.

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