Successful Questionnaire Design – 7 Tips you need to know

7 tips cover

Tip 1: Understand the big picture
It is essential that the overall objectives of the survey are defined at the outset. This will include  establishing the purpose of the survey, clarifying the target population the questionnaire will be administered to e.g. patient group, disease type, how the information will be collected e.g. paper/pencil, interview, web and how that information will be used e.g. improve patient perceptions of a service etc.

Tip 2: Starting at the end
The aims of the survey will  provide the basis for the structure of the questionnaire and developing the content to collect the information required to address the study aims e.g. patient experiences of different touch points of the patient’s  journey, access to treatment etc.

Tip 3: Developing the structure
Developing the structureOnce the main areas of information that are required to meet the aims and objectives of the study are defined, the overall structure of the questionnaire should be developed e.g. questions relating to the patient’s experience from diagnosis to treatment should be in a chronological order, general questions should be asked before specific questions

Tip 4: Choosing the question type
Choosing the question type Choosing the correct type of question will involve making decisions such as whether to use an open or closed question,  a ‘don’t know’ response option,  rating scales or grids etc. First however, it is important to specify whether the questions are about the patient’s attitude, behaviours, experiences etc.

Tip 5: Precision & word crafting
The principle aim in writing a question is to ensure that each question means the same to all the respondents, who should be able to respond with as accurate a response as possible. This will include for example: using simple language, avoiding the use of technical terms and abbreviations as well as only asking questions that are relevant to the respondent.

Tip 6: Layout & sequencing
Attention to the design and layout of a questionnaire is an important stage in its development and  includes length, question and answer format, font and typeface, instructions and routing. When sequencing questions it is important to remember for example: questions should be blocked by topic.

Tip 7: Piloting & perfecting
Pre-testing the questionnaire can highlight any problems with it, including  length, understanding, missing questions etc. Pre-tests can be carried out using focus groups.

Pilot studies tests the whole administrative procedure of using the questionnaire in a smaller but representative sample of the participants before the main study. Here the aim is to test the whole questionnaire, letter of introduction, instructions to participants, reminder letters etc. It is a small-scale test of the main study.


Check out our training workshop on questionnaire design 21st May and book your place


Getting the most from your survey questionnaire

Categories: Patient reported experience, Patient reported outcomes, Questionnaire design

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1 reply


  1. 'Questionnaire Design' Yang Berjaya : 7 Petua Yang Anda Perlu Tahu | Pascasiswazah

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