Primer on Health Surveys

David L Nordstrom


The aim of this paper is to introduce novice researchers to surveys as a method of data collection. It starts with the definition of a survey, its major purposes and types as well as changes in the goals surveys have helped to achieve over time. Advantages and disadvantages of surveys over population censuses and medical examinations are discussed. Approaches to questionnaire construction are introduced along with properties that questionnaires are evaluated for. Modes of administration, sample size issues, and data analysis approaches are also introduced. The primer is illustrated with examples of surveys conducted in different countries with various public health purposes.


population survey; data collection; sample size; cross-sectional; longitudinal; descriptive; analytic; KAP surveys; census; reliability; validity; ethics; survey questions; modes of administration

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