The design of questionnaires

Emily White, Bruce K. Armstrong and Rodolfo Saracci

in Principles of Exposure Measurement in Epidemiology

Second edition

Published in print February 2008 | ISBN: 9780198509851
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191723827 | DOI:
The design of questionnaires

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The objective of questionnaire design is to minimize error in exposure measures while creating an instrument that is easy for the interviewer and subject to use and easy to process. This chapter covers principles of questionnaire design in epidemiology for both interviewer-administered and self-administered questionnaires. Topics include the choice of the data items to be covered, use of open-ended vs. closed-ended questions, wording of questions, and the physical format and structure of questionnaires. Special emphasis is given to asking sensitive questions, collecting information on behaviours that vary over time, and aids to recall of exposures in the past. Pre-testing questionnaires is critical and should include expert review of the questionnaire, pre-testing with interviewer and/or respondent debriefings, observation of interviews, and item response distribution analysis. For questions on new or complex exposures, pre-testing could also include cognitive or intensive interviews with respondents or experiments comparing different versions of questions.

Keywords: questionnaire design; wording of questions; sensitive questions; aids to recall; life events calendar; autobiographical sequences; decomposition; pre-testing; cognitive interviews; interaction coding

Chapter.  13760 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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