alexa A guide for the design and conduct of self-administered surveys of clinicians
Medicine

Medicine

Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research

Author(s): Karen EA Burns, Mark Duffett, Michelle E Kho, Maureen O Meade, Neill KJ Adhikari

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Survey research is an important form of scientific inquiry1 that merits rigorous design and analysis.2 The aim of a survey is to gather reliable and unbiased data from a representative sample of respondents.3 Increasingly, investigators administer questionnaires to clinicians about their knowledge, attitudes and practice2,4,5 to generate or refine research questions and to evaluate the impact of clinical research on practice. Questionnaires can be descriptive (reporting factual data) or explanatory (drawing inferences between constructs or concepts) and can explore several constructs at a time. Questionnaires can be informal, conducted as preparatory work for future studies, or formal, with specific objectives and outcomes. Rigorous questionnaires can be challenging and labour-intensive to develop, test and administer without the help of a systematic approach.5 In this article, we outline steps to design, develop, test and administer valid questionnaires with minimal bias and optimal response rates. We focus on self-administered postal and electronic surveys of clinicians that are amenable to quantitative analysis. We highlight differences between postal and electronic administration of surveys and review strategies that enhance response rates and reporting transparency. Although intended to assist in the conduct of rigorous self-administered surveys, our article may also help clinicians in the appraisal of published surveys.

This article was published in CMAJ and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research

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