239493 Effect of Question Characteristics on Responses to Health Survey Questions

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Timothy Johnson, PhD , Survey Research Laboratory, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
Young Ik Cho, PhD , Survey Research Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Allyson Holbrook, PhD , Survey Research Laboratory, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Sharon Shavitt, PhD , Business Administration, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL
Noel Chávez, PhD, RD , Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois-Chicago, Chicago, IL
Saul Weiner, MD , Department of Medine, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
It is commonly understood that survey questions vary in terms of how easily respondents are able to comprehend their meaning. To investigate this problem, we report data from a set of 600 adult interviews conducted in Chicago that were included in a randomized factorial experiment designed to examine multiple question design features that may be associated with respondent ability to adequately comprehend the meaning of survey questions. Among the question characteristics examined are question response format (e.g., yes/no vs. numeric vs. verbal labels), question topic (physical vs. mental health), type of judgment (time-qualified vs. not), type of report (self vs. proxy), question length, and language complexity. We employ mixed regression models to evaluate the independent effects of each question characteristic on respondent comprehension, which is measured by behavior coding of respondent reactions to each question asked of them. Models control for respondent characteristics and behavior code assessments of the adequacy with which interviewers read each survey question to respondents. Recommendations regarding optimal design of survey questions will be presented.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify survey question characteristics that are associated with variability in respondent ability to comprehend question meaning.

Keywords: Survey, Statistics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI for the NIH grant that collected the data being presented in this paper.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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