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Online Survey Tools and their use in Public Health Vicky Ng, PhD Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ), University of Guelph April 5, 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "Online Survey Tools and their use in Public Health Vicky Ng, PhD Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ), University of Guelph April 5, 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 Online Survey Tools and their use in Public Health Vicky Ng, PhD Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses (CPHAZ), University of Guelph April 5, 2012

2 Presentation Outline Online trends in Canada Advantages and disadvantages Online survey tools to overcome biases Recruiting for an online survey Software/IT requirements Online survey use in public health

3 Internet access in Canada Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators (accessed April 2, 2012)

4 Internet usage in Canada Source: Globe and Mail (published online March 8, 2012)

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7 Survey methods in Canada Source: Report for MRIA Gold Seal Research Agency Member Firms (Member and Non-member Results, 2007 to 2010).

8 Advantages to Online Surveys (1) Increase in internet access/usage Internet demographics rapidly changing; usage near universal (age, gender, income, region) Automatic data collection Real-time accumulation of data (quota/analysis) Time- and cost-efficient (paperless) Errors can be corrected Respondent errors are flagged automatically (no missing or out-of-range responses)

9 Advantages to Online Surveys (2) Higher response rate (no time/geographic constraint, larger sample size) Secure and anonymous (honesty, REB) Access to hard-to-reach individuals/groups Eliminates interviewer bias or error Complex functions (auto-skip, personalization of questions, quota control, multiple survey versions, choice randomization)

10 Disadvantages to Online Surveys No access to those without internet Target population may not be tech-savvy Bias towards those who tend to respond to online surveys (young to middle-age, white females) No interviewer to clarify and probe, possibly leading to less reliable data Panel integrity (inconsistent responders, speedy responders, repeat responders) Technical issues (IT set-up, server problems, program bugs)

11 Online functions to overcome biases Quota control (representative sample, eligibility) Auto-skip and personalized questions/graphics (streamline process = higher integrity responses) Multiple survey versions/choice randomization (ordering bias) Consistency check questions (disqualify inconsistent responders) Time stamp (disqualify speedy responders) IP addresses/unique IDs (disqualify repeat responders) Purge “straight line” responders

12 Recruiting for an online survey 1.Web link in print publications/pamphlet (passive) 2.Web link in e-pubs or websites (semi-active) 3.Direct (active) Mailing list (targeted organizations) Online panel providers (opt-in panels) 4.Direct contact/web (active+) Conferences, hospitals, public outreach programs Online panel providers (custom panels)

13 Online Panel Providers (OPP) Opt-in panels: –Pre-recruited/pre-screened respondents who generally complete a number of surveys over time –Incentive-based –Large and broadly-based (country-specific) –Specialist panels available (auto, mobile, healthcare) Custom panels: –Randomly recruited from the general population –Hybrid internet-telephone sampling –Refreshed constantly, cannot opt-in (randomly selected)

14 Software/IT requirements No software necessary if you outsource recruitment, survey design, hosting and data collection entirely to OPP Simple software if you are only outsourcing a portion of the study (e.g. FluidSurveys, LimeSurvey) Sophisticated software for specialized methods (e.g. Sawtooth Software, but check with IT!) Internet access Server to host the survey and data Computer to download and analyze data invites (spam, unsubscribe, generic )

15 Examples of Public Health Surveys Online surveys are versatile and most studies can be conducted online: –Assess health and educational services –Explore the provision of health services –Internal evaluation by public health officials –Identify public health problems and gaps in information –Population health study (e.g. burden of illness, Ontario Health Study) –Public education/feedback

16 Questions? Thank you! Vicky Ng


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