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Questionnaire Design. Data Collection. Adapted from K Alpers , C Campese , P McKeown , V Bremer, V Prikazsky. What is a questionnaire?. A tool to collect answers to questions collect factual data A series of written questions in a fixed , rational order.

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questionnaire design

Questionnaire Design

Data Collection

Adapted from

K Alpers, C Campese, P McKeown, V Bremer,VPrikazsky

what is a questionnaire
What is a questionnaire?
  • A tool to
    • collect answers to questions
    • collect factual data
  • A series of written questions in a fixed, rational order
a well designed questionnaire
A well designed questionnaire
  • Gives accurate and relevant information to your research question
  • Minimises potential sources of bias

As simple and focused as possible

how to reduce bias
How to reduce bias
  • Structured questionnaire
  • Ensure high response rate
  • Training of survey administrators
advantages of questionnaires
Advantages of questionnaires
  • Can reach a large number of people
  • Relatively easy and economic
  • Relate directly to study question
  • Provide quantifiable answers
  • Relatively easy to analyse
disadvantages of questionnaires
Disadvantages of questionnaires
  • Provide only limited insight into a problem
    • the range of possible responses is limited
    • the question maybe misleading
  • Varying response
    • Unclear question can lead to
      • misunderstanding
      • misinterpretation
  • Do not allow for mistakes
    • must be right from the beginning
    • missing data hard to chase
types of questionnaires
Types of Questionnaires
  • Interviewer-administered
    • face to face
types of questionnaires1
Types of Questionnaires
  • Interviewer-administered
    • face to face
    • telephone
types of questionnaires2
Types of Questionnaires
  • Interviewer-administered
    • face to face
    • telephone
  • Self-administered
    • by post
types of questionnaires3
Types of Questionnaires
  • Interviewer-administered
    • face to face
    • telephone
  • Self-administered
    • by post
    • email/Internet
self administered questionnaire
Self-administered questionnaire
  • Advantages
    • cheap and easy to administer
    • preserves confidentiality
    • completed at respondent's convenience
    • not influenced by interviewer
self administered questionnaire1
Self-administered questionnaire
  • Advantages
    • cheap and easy to administer
    • preserves confidentiality
    • completed at respondent's convenience
    • not influenced by interviewer
  • Disadvantages
    • low response
    • questions can be misunderstood
    • no control by interviewer
    • only literate persons
    • time delay (post)
    • e-mail/internet: need computer access/software
interviewer administered questionnaire
Interviewer-administered questionnaire
  • Advantages
    • participation of illiterate people
    • clarification of ambiguities
    • quick answers
interviewer administered questionnaire1
Interviewer-administered questionnaire
  • Advantages
    • participation of illiterate people
    • clarification of ambiguities
    • quick answers
  • Disadvantages
    • interviewer bias
    • needs more staff resources
    • only short questionnaires possible
      • especially on telephone
    • difficult for sensitive issues
before starting to design a questionnaire
Before starting to design a questionnaire

Confirm your research purpose

  • define objectives
  • define study questions

Risk factors for being stung by jellyfish at PulauRedangOctober 2010

Research proposal

Mat Selam, 7 October 2010

study protocol and questionnaire
Study protocol and questionnaire



Definition of objectives

Design questions

The question must answer your objectives

The question collects appropriate information for analyses

Control and reading

List of variables to collect

Pilot test

Analysis plan

use existing questionnaires
Use existing questionnaires
  • As a guide
  • Don´t need to re-invent the wheel
  • Have been tested
  • BUT: adapt to present situation!
questionnaire needs to be adapted to study population
Questionnaire needs to be adapted to study population
  • Know the respondents
    • occupation
    • sensitive issues
    • education
    • ethnic group
    • language
what makes a well designed questionnaire
What makes a well designed questionnaire?
  • Good appearance (easy for the eye)
  • Short and simple
  • Relevant and logical

⇒ High response

⇒ Easier to collect

to summarize

to analyse

basic rules
Basic Rules
  • On first page
    • Return address
    • Study title
  • On all pages
    • Identifyer
    • Page numbers
  • Numbered questions
  • Instructions (in bold or italic)
structure of a questionnaire
Structure of a questionnaire
  • Introduction
  • Identification
  • Instructions on how to answer
  • Questions
  • Conclusion
1 introduction
1 - Introduction
  • Cover letter/ introduction
    • Who are you / you work for
    • Why are you investigating
    • Where did you obtain the respondent’s name
    • How and where can you be contacted
    • Guarantee of confidentiality
    • Time taken to complete the survey(be honest)

⇒ Usefulness of study should be clear to all respondents

example of introduction
Example of introduction
  • Good morning ,

My name is Mat SelamAwangJala, I work for ……..

You may have been already informed that a survey on risk factors for being stung by a jellyfish will be done this week in PulauRedang. This study has been approved by the national ethical committee. Only anonymous data will be analysed. You have been randomly selected to participate in this study. Your participation is voluntary. The questionnaire will take about 10 minutes to answer.

2 identification
2 - Identification
  • Each questionnaire/interviewed person must be identified
    • Example : I_I I_I_I I_I_I

interviewer N° district N° person N°

  • Demographic data : age, sex …
  • Identifiers kept separately from names (anonymous)
    • 007
    • 017
3 instructions
3 - Instructions
  • Give clear instructions about how to answer the questions
    • Use different fonts (e.g. italics) if necessary
  • Give instruction which questions can be skipped -> where to jump to
content of questions
Content of questions
  • Clear focus on research question
    • avoid sidetracking
    • avoid unnecessary information
question order
  • Decide on the order of items/questions
    • easy  difficult
    • general  particular
    • factual  abstract
  • Group questions by topic
  • Be aware of ordering effects
  • Don’t put the most important items last
  • Where to place sensitive questions?
starting questions
Starting questions
  • “Door-opener”
  • Simple
  • Closed format
  • Relevant to main subject
  • Non-offending
  • Neither demographic nor personal questions
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 options
    • “don’t know”
    • “don’t want to answer”
format of questions1
Format of questions

7 - Do you like to go swimming and do you mind to be stung by jellyfish?

 Yes

 No

  • Ask for one information at a time
  • Answer options
    • Mutually exclusive and exhaustive
    • Vertical order of answer options
be accurate
Be accurate

8 – What is the jellyfish situation?

 Good

 Bad


8 - How often did you see jellyfish during the last week?

 Once

 Twice

 Three times or more

 Never

  • Don´t know
be appropriate
Be appropriate

9 – Are jellyfishes useless nuisance?




9 - How often have you been stung by jellyfish?

Once a day or more

Once a week

Less than once a week

Don´t know

be objective
Be objective

10 - Do you agree that jellyfish are annoying?




10 - According to you, the presence of jellyfish in PulauRedang is…

not at all a public health problem

not a major public health problem

a potential public health problem

an important public health problem

 no opinion/don´t know

be simple
Be simple

11- Did you see more than an average of 33 jellyfish/m2 salt water surface on more than 3 occasions that you went swimming in the morning last week?

 Yes

 No


11- Have you seen jellyfish on more than 3 mornings last week?

 Yes

 No

 Don´t know

two main question formats
Two main question formats
  • Closed format  forced choice

Yes  Always 

No  Sometimes 

Don’t know  Never 

  • Open format  free text

12 – What did you do to avoid being stung by jellyfish? Please describe :__________________________________________________________________________________

advantages of open questions
Advantages of open questions
  • not directive
  • detailed and unexpected answers possible
    • allow exploration of issues to generate hypotheses
  • useful for exploring knowledge and attitudes
      • qualitative research
      • focus groups
disadvantages of open questions
Disadvantages of open questions
  • interviewer bias
  • time-consuming
  • coding problems
  • difficult to analyse
  • difficult to compare groups
advantages of closed questions
Advantages of closed questions
  • Straightforward response
  • Simple
  • Quick
  • Less discrimination against less verbally expressive people
  • Easy to code, record, analyse
  • Easy to compare
  • Easy to report
disadvantages of closed questions
Disadvantages of closed questions
  • restricted number of possible answers
  • Possible loss of additional information


    • insert field


if yes specify : __________”

examples for closed questions
Examples for closed questions

2 - What is your age in years? ___ years

3 - How long have you stayed at PulauRedang? ___ days

4 - What is your sex (gender)?

 Male


closed questions checklist
Closed questions: Checklist

14 - Which of the following beaches have you visited during your stay in Trengganu?

  • BatuBurok
  • Redang
  • Penantian
  • Marang
rating scale
Rating scale

15 – How often did you see jellyfish during the past weeks?

Always Sometimes Seldom Never

Mornings    

Lunchtime    

Evenings    

semantic rating scale
Semantic Rating scale


16 - How severe was your pain after you were stung? (please circle)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Not painful at all Very painful


17- How severe is your pain (put the tick on the line)

0 10

likert scale
Likert Scale
  • RensisLikert, 1903-1981
  • Psychometric scale
  • Five (or more) ordered response levels

18 – Jellyfish also have the right to swim in the Mediterranean sea

  • strongly disagree
  • disagree
  • neither agree or disagree
  • Agree
  • Strongly agree
problems and pitfalls
Problems and pitfalls
  • Avoid questions that ask two things at once - you won’t know which part people are answering:

19 - Have you seen or been stung by jellyfish?

  • Ambiguity.....

20 - Do you swim a lot?

problems and pitfalls1
Problems and pitfalls
  • Avoid jargon/abbreviations/slang

21- Should jellyfish victims receive a PEP?

(post exposure prophylaxis)

  • Avoid not mutually exclusive options

22 - What is your age ?


 20-25

 25-30

 35-40

problems and pitfalls2
Problems and pitfalls
  • Avoid leading questions

23 - Do you think we should forbid people to go swimming in the mornings?

  • Avoid making the questionnaire too long
  • Typographical / spelling errors
  • Answers can be pre-coded
  • Quicker and easier data entry
  • Examples:

Male  1 Ill  1

Female  0 Not ill  0

Don’t know  9 Don’t know  9


CahayaBulan2 TelukCempedak3


5 conclusion
5 - Conclusion
  • Don’t forget to thank the respondents
  • Tell them when the results will be available and where
example of conclusion
Example of conclusion

In some investigations you might want to add:

This is the end of the interview. Thanks for answering this questionnaire. The result of this study will be available on the website in six months.

Any others questions you wish to ask ?

We are still in a very early phase of our investigation. Would you agree to be contacted again in case further questions arise?

questionnaire validation
Questionnaire validation
  • Use or adapt existing questionnaires
    • validated (and possibly harmonised)
  • New questionnaires
    • not validated
    • need to be tested (pilot)
pilot your questionnaire
Pilot your questionnaire!
  • Pilot with a group of people

-> similar to your target subjects

  • Highlight problems before starting
    • Misunderstandings
    • Look for alternative wording
    • Final polishing
presentation and layout
Presentation and layout
  • Clear and consistent
  • adequate space to answer
    • large font size
    • appropriate page breaks
  • avoid
      • messy layouts
      • too many and fancy logos
  • printing questionnaire on coloured paper may help

A well designed questionnaire:

  • collects appropriate data

-> to answer your research question

  • minimises potential sources of bias

-> increases the validity of the replies

  • Will much more likely be completed