Field Epidemiology Manual Wiki

Seven Golden Rules to Design Questions

Last modified at 5/26/2011 5:32 PM by CeRC

It is very important to adjust the style of the questions to the target audience. The phrasing of the questions might vary substantially depending whether the target audience consists of medical professionals or the general public.

1. Ask one information at a time

Do you own a dog? 

instead of   Do you own a dog or have frequent contact with dogs?

2. Ask precise questions

How often did you touch a dog during the past 3 months?

instead of Do you often touch dogs?

3. Ask appropriate, non-judgemental questions

How often have you consumed alcoholic beverages during the past 6 months?

instead of Are you a drunk?

4. Avoid suggestive questions

Which beverage did you consume?

instead of Did you drink the strange pink drink?

5. Be as simple as possible

Did you smoke an average of 2 packages of cigarettes/week for the last 5 years?

instead of Did you smoke not less than a mean amount of 7 cigarettes/2 days from 1999 onwards?

6. Avoid jargon, abbreviations or slang

How often do you get up at night to pass urine?

instead of How often do you get up at night to PU?

Remember that key words need to be defined (example "PU", “fully vaccinated”).

7. Use mutually exclusive and exhaustive answer options

Put the options in a vertical order. Do not forget the option "don't know, if applicable.

Yes      or Every day      or 0-10 years     
No Several times a week 11 - 20 years
Don't Know Less than once per week 21 years or older