Sample Surveys

3. Defining Objectives

Exercise 1

Suggested Study: You’d like to conduct a study of middle-aged adults who are unemployed by conducting a telephone survey. You are particularly interested in understanding how unemployment is related to depression, so have several questions about mood, and interactions with spouse/partner and family members. The study must be conducted within a limited timeframe and requires a large sample size.

Identify which items listed below are positive aspects of conducting a telephone survey and which pose challenges.

For the items listed the user selects whether they are challenges or benefits to conducting a telephone survey.

Item: Data Completeness
Item: Time to results
Item: Data accuracy
Item: Sensitivity of subject matter
Item: Ability to recruit sample households

Answers:
Item: Data Completeness
Benefit. Relative to mail surveys, interviewer administered surveys are more likely to result in fewer skipped questions and more complete data.

Item: Time to results
Benefit. Telephone surveys are often a good approach when time is a concern. Recontacts can be made repeatedly over the course of a few days unlike mail or in person.

Item: Data accuracy
Challenge. When subject matter is sensitive in a telephone interview there is a risk participants will not answer questions as honestly and may provide skewed answers to present themselves favorably.

Item: Sensitivity of subject matter
Challenge. Unemployment in itself is likely to be stigmatizing, as is depression. Both of these issues combined make this a sensitive topic.

Item: Ability to recruit sample households
Challenge. Telephone surveys for unemployment samples are likely to pose challenges because of high rates of disconnected phone lines or cell phone use only. Unemployment may also lead to address changes which may limit access.