Sample Surveys

6. Developing a Survey Instrument

Multiple-mode surveys are increasingly common as a means to improve the chances of contacting and recruiting respondents, reduce study costs, or collect different kinds of information. For example, a longitudinal survey in which a household is contacted several times over a time period may begin as an in-person survey for the first contact, but once rapport and familiarity with the survey is established, subsequent contacts are made via phone to save costs. Alternatively, to reduce field costs, a survey may involve an initial telephone interview and then an in-person follow-up phase to obtain physical measurements on an individual who has completed the telephone interview. A telephone survey may also have a mail follow-up phase to obtain more sensitive data in a self-administered mode or as an alternative contact strategy for respondents that are hard to reach during normal calling hours. Figure 1 illustrates 3 possible options for initial contact and follow-up.

The mode of data collection affects the way in which the survey instrument is designed.

Complicated skip patterns are difficult to implement in a mail survey. Similarly, if a respondent listens to a pre-recorded voice asking questions and then enters answers by pressing buttons on a phone, then the questions and choices probably need to be shorter and simpler than with a live telephone interviewer.

Think of a population you would like to study and a question you would like to ask. What data collection mode do you think would be best for your survey?

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