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Survey Attributes, Development, Utilization, and Interpretation in Healthcare Research

This information is provided to you for use in conjunction with your clinical judgment and the specific needs of the patient.

John Ward, DC, MA, MS

Abstract


Introduction:

Surveys are important for the evaluation of healthcare data trends that affect patient populations.

Methods:

This narrative review describes survey attributes, development, utilization, and interpretation from perspectives pertinent to researchers.

Results:

Survey questions should be sensitive to cultural, psychological, and economic factors. Questions may be open-ended or closed-ended. They may be distributed in-person, through telephone interviews, by mail, online, or through direct physical distribution. Newly created surveys should use age-appropriate, education level-appropriate, culturally sensitive, and time-sensitive questions. Researchers will need to select an appropriate mechanism of quantifying and analyzing responses. Newly created surveys should be pilot-tested on small sample populations that are representative of the intended larger population. There is no set agreed upon way to report surveys, but the most common survey reporting deficiencies appear to be failing to: provide survey questions, report on validity or reliability of the instrument, provide the response rate, discuss how well the sample represents the entire population, and describe how missing data are handled.

Conclusions:

Surveys are critical to discovering data trends and encouraging modifications in clinical treatment guidelines. The questions should focus on set domains, but be capable of accommodating all relevant answers. Survey questions should be tested to ensure they have reasonable validity for what they are trying to measure and that they are reliable if used multiple times with various populations.

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