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QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN: TYPE OF QUESTIONS. Lu Ann Aday, Ph.D. The University of Texas School of Public Health. MAJOR RESPONDENT TASKS: DIFFERENT TYPES OF Qs. ELEMENTS Words. CRITERIA Clearly define the concept Physical, mental, or social dimensions Positive vs. negative health

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questionnaire design type of questions

QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN: TYPE OF QUESTIONS

Lu Ann Aday, Ph.D.

The University of Texas School of Public Health

design elements criteria health
ELEMENTS

Words

CRITERIA

Clearly define the concept

Physical, mental, or social dimensions

Positive vs. negative health

Provider vs. patient judgments

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Health
design elements criteria health4
ELEMENTS

Responses

CRITERIA

Match scale type to design & analyses

Design: precision & sensitivity

Analyses: typology, Likert, utility, etc. scale types

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Health
design elements criteria demographics
VARIABLE

Household

composition

EXAMPLES

Ask about relationships to reference person (who owns or rents the home) rather than “head of household”

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics6
VARIABLE

Age

EXAMPLES

What is your date of birth?

In what year were you born?

Which of the following categories best describes your age?

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics7
VARIABLE

Marital

status

EXAMPLES

Are you currently married, not married but living with a sexual partner, separated, divorced, widowed, or never married?

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics8
VARIABLE

Ethnicity

Race

EXAMPLES

Are any of the following groups your national origin or ancestry?

Which group or groups BEST represents your race?

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics9
VARIABLE

Education

EXAMPLES

What is the highest grade or year of regular school that you completed?

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics10
VARIABLE

Employment status

EXAMPLES

Are you currently employed? IF YES, ASK, Are you self-employed & Is that full-time or part-time? IF NO, ASK, Are you retired, disabled, a student, keeping house, temporarily unemployed, or not looking for paidemployment?

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics11
VARIABLE

Occupation

EXAMPLES

What is your job title?

What are your most important job activities or duties?

What kind of business or industry is this?

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria demographics12
VARIABLE

Family Income

EXAMPLES

Which of the following categories best represents your total combined FAMILY income during the last 12 months?Include money from jobs, social security, retirement income, unemployment payments, public assistance and so forth. Also include income from interest, dividends, net income from business, farm, or rent, and any other money income received.

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA: Demographics
design elements criteria behavior nonthreatening
ELEMENTS

Administration

Overreporting (telescoping salient events)

Underreporting

(omitting non-salient events)

CRITERIA

Prime R to remember

Use bounded recall: ask about events in previous & then current time period

Adjust recall period

Ask in terms of “usual” behavior

Use memory aids, e.g., aided recall, records, diaries

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Behavior—Nonthreatening
design elements criteria behavior threatening
ELEMENTS

Words

Phrases

Sentences

CRITERIA

Use words that are familiar

Judiciously consider “loading” questions, e.g., others engage in behavior

Make questions longer

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Behavior—Threatening
design elements criteria behavior threatening15
ELEMENTS

Responses

CRITERIA

Consider open-ended rather and closed-end responses

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Behavior—Threatening
design elements criteria behavior threatening16
ELEMENTS

Questionnaire

CRITERIA

Build in appropriate explanations & transitions

Ask whether they “ever” engaged in behavior before asking about “current” practices

Ask questions at end or embed among less threatening items

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Behavior—Threatening
design elements criteria behavior threatening17
ELEMENTS

Administration

CRITERIA

Consider a self-administered or more anonymous, e.g., computerized, format, to minimize “threat”

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Behavior—Threatening
design elements criteria knowledge
ELEMENTS

Questions

CRITERIA

Consider screening Q first to see if R knows anything about the topic

Ask more than one question to find out about knowledge

Phrase Qs more like Qs about opinions, e.g., “In your opinion…”

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Knowledge
design elements criteria knowledge19
ELEMENTS

Responses

CRITERIA

Use open-ended rather than closed-end response formats when necessary, to prevent guessing

Provide “don’t know” as an alternative

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Knowledge
design elements criteria knowledge20
ELEMENTS

Administration

CRITERIA

Use self-administered quex, esp. in groups

Consider inclusion of “sleeper” (fictional) options

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Knowledge
design elements criteria attitudes
ELEMENTS

Words

Phrases

CRITERIA

Clarify the attitude object (or focus of attitude statement)

Provide balanced alternatives, e.g., agree or disagree; support or oppose

Do not included double-barreled (more than one) referent

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Attitudes
design elements criteria attitudes22
ELEMENTS

Sentences

CRITERIA

Use medium-length, followed by medium-length to long Q

Limit the number of Qs included in a battery of similar Qs

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Attitudes
design elements criteria attitudes23
ELEMENTS

Responses

CRITERIA

Minimize “yea-saying”

Include positive & negative items

Put least socially desirable response first

Choose best approach to measuring attitude strength

Rating vs. ranking

# of points on scale

Use of “uncertain”

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Attitudes
design elements criteria attitudes24
ELEMENTS

Administration

CRITERIA

Ask more general attitudinal items before specific ones

DESIGN ELEMENTS & CRITERIA:Attitudes
references
REFERENCES
  • Dillman, Don A. (2000). Mail and Internet Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. Second Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Ware, J.E., Jr., & Gandek, B., for the IQOLA Project (1998). Overview of the SF-36 Health Survey and the International Quality of Life Assessment (IQOLA) Project. J. Clinical Epidemiology, 51 (11), 903-912.
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