Gathering your stakeholders' opinions
Questionnaires are something most people are familiar with for measuring our satisfaction with goods or services. They are a reasonably quick way to gather information from potentially large numbers of participants. However, just sending out a questionnaire can result in a low return rate (in the region of 10%) and bias the results obtained. Repeated questionnaires can be used to track changes over time.
When designing questionnaires there are a few things for you to consider:
- Have a clear aim of what information you want to collect and how it will be analysed
- Involve your service users in the design of the questionnaire. Make sure you use language and terminology service users and patients will recognise.
- Think about the structure of your questions and the type of response. Is a closed ‘yes/no’ type question sufficient or do you want users to rate services. For example, ‘how would you rate the quality of food and drinks in the waiting area? or ‘the information provided by the healthcare scientist was appropriate for me to understand my blood test result.’ These types of question are often rated on a scale (termed a Likert Scale) from 1 to 5, or similar (strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly disagree). You should think carefully about your rating scale. For example, is a neutral answer such as ‘neither agree nor disagree’ helpful.
- Consider the information you wish to collect. The results of yes/no and rating style questions are easy to analyse and present, however you can gain additional valuable information from open questions. These invite a free text response, but are more difficult to analyse.
- Try to keep your questionnaire short. Participants should be able to complete in less than 10 minutes.
- Always pilot your questionnaires with representatives of the group you are trying to survey. This is important as it often highlights were questions are interpreted differently by participants to those who designed the questionnaire. Piloting gives you the opportunity to test and refine your questions
- Think about how you will distribute the questionnaires, in person (for example in the department), by post (include a pre-paid return envelope) or electronically (for example using a tool such as Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey provides a basic free survey of 10 questions and there are more advanced subscription options. Your institution may have a subscription to this or other similar survey engines, check with your Research Office.
If a questionnaire is anonymous, the return of a completed questionnaire is accepted as consent and Ethical approval is not required.