HealthCare Surveys

A Survey Service for University and College Health Care Administrators

Setting up a survey

Surveys are collections of questions which have selectable answers. The answers can be either a single answer, e.g. Yes OR No, or multiple choice. Surveys are typically broken into two basic types of questions, demographic questions and general questions. Demographic questions, e.g. sex or age, are used to qualify the population and can be only be a single answer. The general questions ask anything, can be either multiple choice or single answer and are analyzed related to the demographic questions.

The first step in establishing a survey is to define all the questions and associated answers which are to be asked, both demographic (typically done first) and the general questions.

Once the questions have been determined for the survey, configuration must be done. This includes the following:

  • Defining the basic survey structure
  • Defining the questions
  • Defining the page flow of questions
Once this is done, the survey is then placed online and is available for use.

Defining the basic survey structure entails establishing a definition file which contains information such as:

  • Names the survey
  • Defines the criteria of participation, e.g. how are participants identified and/or screened.
  • Defines the "look and feel" of the survey, i.e. colors, backgrounds,
  • Define passwords for access control of the results.
  • Defines the locations for the question definitions, page definitions and the results.

Defining the questions The questions are defined by establishing a file which contain all the questions involved in the survey. This is an ASCII text file which has the following format:
Q:Number- The question number.
T:text The question text. This continues until there is a Y:record
Y:Type Either R for OR, a radio button which permits only ONE answer,
or C for AND, or checkbox list which permits more than one answer.
or M for AND with limited Multiple answers, a checkbox list which requires no more than a set number of answers. Using the letter code in lowercase provides a 2-column display of the available answers.
M:Number Limits number of responses where Type M (Y:M) is defined
C:Category Either D, Demographic or G, General
S:Single Single Line Switch. If set to 1, put all questions on single line.
O:OptionalOptional Question Switch. If set to 1, then this question can be left blank. If this switch is NOT set, then the question must be answered or the survey cannot be completed.
A:Answer The list of selectable answers. The sequence of answers is the sequence they are displayed and indicates the answer number.
R:Relation [NOT YET IMPLIMENTED] A-Q-M The answer A is prohibited if question Q answer M is selected. Question Q must preceed this question.
E:Number- The End of the data for Question Number:

As an example:

would define Question 1, asking "Sex:" as a Demographic question which could be answered as either Male or Female.

Defining the page flow of questions is done by creating an ASCII page description file as follows:
P:num-(Rel) Where num is the Page Number and, optionally, a (Rel)ationship. The relationship defines a conditional page which is displayed only if the answer to a question is some answer. The format is Question-Answer, so that a line P:3-7-2 indicates that this would be page 3 if question 7 has answer 2. If relationships are used, there must be a page defined for each possible answer for the associated question, i.e. if page 3 is conditional on question 7, then there must be a page definition for answer 1 and 2 and all other answers for question 7. Every possible use case needs to be accounted for. If a given response causes the survey to jump ahead several questions end of Page 5, for example, a Thank You page at Page 5 must be defined, as well as where the survey would normally end.
T:text The Page title
H:text The heading for the page
Q:nums The question numbers of the questions to be asked on this page. The question numbers are separated by blanks.
L:1An indicator that this is the last page. It has no questions and triggers the addition of the accumulated answers into the results file.
E:num- End of this page.
Examples would be:

T:Insurance Coverage
H:Insurance Coverage
Q:10 11 12 13 14 17 18

T:Why No Insurance Coverage
H:Why No Insurance Coverage
Q:15 16 12 13 14 17 18
This would generate page 3 and ask questions 10 11 12 13 14 17 and 18 if questions 9 had answer 1 or ask questions 15 16 12 13 14 17 and 18 if question 9 had answer 2.

Putting the survey online involves establishing the initial page and establishing the answer analysis page. These are two web pages which tie together the previously defined definitions.

Additional features

Word Secure Encrypted Messaging now available to as a part of our services to aid administrators with anonymous logistics securely.

In addition, the system can be configured to:
  • Screen a user's participation based on passwords or student identifiers.
  • Allow a user to "retake" the survey.
  • A respondent's anonymity can be established. In this case, the user is asked for his/her identification to validate that they are allowed to access the survey. If they are valid participants, a flag is set to indicate that they have taken the survey and cannot do so again. The system then assigns them a "random" identifier which is used to register the answers. An anonymous survey cannot allow "retakes" of the survey.
  • The participants can optionally be allowed to email comments, suggestions or questions about the survey.
  • The question/answer dialog can be done on a secure server using the Secure Socket Layer.