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Survey Methodology. EPID-626 Lecture 1. What is a survey?. A survey is a system for collecting information to describe, compare, or explain knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. (Fink, 1995). Megan O'Brien: Rothman, 1998, p451. What can surveys reasonably assess?.

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survey methodology

Survey Methodology


Lecture 1

what is a survey
What is a survey?
  • A survey is a system for collecting information to describe, compare, or explain knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. (Fink, 1995)
what can surveys reasonably assess

Megan O'Brien:

Rothman, 1998, p451

What can surveys reasonably assess?
  • Behaviors associated with disease
  • Personal attributes that affect disease risk
  • Knowledge/attitudes that influence health behaviors
  • Use of health services
  • Self-reported disease occurrence (Rothman, 1998)
what may be unreasonable for survey
What may be unreasonable for survey?
  • Very personal information
  • Information about socially undesirable behavior
  • Intricate details of past events
  • Complex clinical information
options for topics that may be unreasonable for survey
Options for topics that may be unreasonable for survey
  • Don’t use a survey
    • Example: examine medical records instead
  • Use survey but use other methods to verify some information
    • Example: use a survey to measure possible cancer risk factors and ask about history of cancer. Examine medical records to verify reported information about history of cancer
Compensate for potential problems in the survey design
    • Example: make the survey anonymous if asking for very personal information or about socially undesirable behavior
  • Use a survey, but recognize the limitations of the results
    • Example: present prevalence rate, but comment that it is likely to underestimate the true prevalence
“Sponsoring a special-purpose survey data collection is a rather expensive solution to an information problem. Before launching such an effort, one should explore thoroughly the potential for gathering the same information from existing records or from other sources.” (Fowler, 1995)
alternatives to surveys
Alternatives to surveys
  • May be necessary
    • biologic specimens, medical testing
  • May be more feasible
    • existing data sources
  • Multiple methods may be used together
advantages of surveys
Advantages of surveys
  • You can:
    • obtain standardized measurements
    • use probability sampling
    • ensure that all the data needed for a given analysis can be obtained
your research question
Your research question
  • Is the question
    • relevant?
    • important?
    • timely?
  • Always begin with a literature review
  • Formulate a hypothesis
  • Can you test the hypothesis with a survey?
  • Can you obtain the necessary information to answer the research question?
    • Can you get the information?
    • Will the data be accurate?
    • How much will it cost (staff, other resources)?
    • How long will it take?
    • Is your study ethical?
ready to start not even close
Ready to start? Not even close!!
  • Think about your research endpoint
  • What kind of data do you need?
  • How will you collect the data?
  • Who will you collect data from?
wanted project coordinator
Wanted: Project Coordinator
  • Assisting the department director in carrying out applied survey research, your duties will include: formulating study designs and sampling frames; ..developing instruments; supervising data collection, entry, and manipulation; application of descriptive and inferential statistics; interpreting results and preparing reports. (Fink, 1995)
survey to do list
Survey To-Do List
  • Set objectives for information collection
  • Design research
  • Prepare a reliable and valid data collection instrument
  • Analyze data
  • Report the results(Fink, 1995)
checklist for a great survey
Checklist for a great survey
  • Specific objectives
  • Straightforward questions
  • Sound research design
  • Sound choice of population or sample
  • Reliable and valid survey instrument
  • Appropriate analysis
  • Accurate reporting of survey results
  • Reasonable resources(Fink, 1995)