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EDITORIAL
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-2
 

Survey-based research: Meticulous planning and execution is the key!


Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

Date of Submission14-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance14-Jan-2021
Date of Web Publication22-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Swati Chhabra
Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, OT Complex, Third Floor OPD Building, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/TheIAForum.TheIAForum_5_21

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How to cite this article:
Bhatia P, Chhabra S, Mohammed S. Survey-based research: Meticulous planning and execution is the key!. Indian Anaesth Forum 2021;22:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Bhatia P, Chhabra S, Mohammed S. Survey-based research: Meticulous planning and execution is the key!. Indian Anaesth Forum [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 May 9];22:1-2. Available from: http://www.theiaforum.org/text.asp?2021/22/1/1/309834




The pandemic of COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV2 took the world by surprise and each country is managing the crisis in their own way. While the conventional ways of life took a backseat, everyone adopted some or the other digital means to continue knowledge sharing which brought the world closer. Few other “academic pandemics” were also noticed in recent times; pandemic of webinars and pandemic of survey-based research being the most noticeable ones. All of us have received infinite numbers of links to respond to surveys related or unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic via E-mails or social media platforms. As of January 8, 2021, searching “survey-based study AND COVID-19” on PubMed Central led to > 15,000 results.[1] Two survey-based studies are published in this issue; one about adherence to the recognized guidelines on intubation by the airway managers during the COVID-19 pandemic while the other study aims to find out the current practice and attitudes of the Indian anesthesiologists regarding the perioperative use of cuffed endotracheal tubes in pediatric and neonatal population.[2],[3] It might be a common notion that conducting a survey-based study is easy, it must be kept in mind that doing this according to guidelines is hard work.

The surveys are done in the form of a set of questions (called questionnaire) put forward to the target audience personally or via post, E-mails, digital messages, links on social media, etc., This form of research was initially applied to social sciences but now are observed in all the disciplines. The earliest written record of a questionnaire was in 1838 by the Statistical Society of London when its committees enquired into the industrial and social conditions of those times.[4] In healthcare, surveys or the questionnaire-based studies are employed to assess for knowledge, attitudes, and practices. They are mostly conducted to find a gap between knowledge and practice and the reasons thereof. They could be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory and generate qualitative or quantitative data.[5]

Reporting guidelines are used to ensure the quality of medical literature, which are employed by the authors, editorial staff, peer-reviewers, and readers to critically appraise the articles. These guidelines depend on the research methodology, for example, CONSORT (randomized trials), STROBE (observational studies), PRISMA (systematic reviews), CARE (case reports), etc., to name a few.[6] The Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys (CHERRIES) was introduced by Eysenbach to increase the usefulness of web-based surveys.[7] However, the application of such reporting guidelines to survey-based research is not common leading to nonuniformity in their conduct. Having a specific research question or a hypothesis should be the initial step followed by defining the study population. The questionnaire (or interview) is central to any survey-based study since it aids in achieving the objectives laid for the study and adequate attention should be devoted to it, in case a self-structured one is to be used. Peterson suitably described the acronym BRUSO for the questions as: brief, relevant, unambiguous, specific, and objective.[8] The questions can be categorized as closed-ended or open-ended depending on the type of response solicited. Closed-ended questions present options for the response while the open-ended ones allow the response to be at respondent's discretion. While closed-ended questions are common in questionnaires in recent times, it's advisable to have at least one open-ended question to have additional comments from the respondents for added perspective. Conscious efforts to be taken while formulating a questionnaire to decrease response fatigue and improve response rates. The response rate is the percentage of responses received out of the total persons to whom the questionnaire was sent. While there is no universal agreement in defining a good response rate, achieving >40% can be considered adequate. It is also important to take an appropriate sample size, such that the sample population is representative of the total population under study. This depends on the primary question, acceptable margin of error, expected response rate, and a contingency factor.

Approval from an ethics committee is mandatory and the questionnaire should be validated and checked for reliability whenever possible.[9] Like any other research methodology, survey-based research is prone to biases. The methodology should be in place to overcomes these biases while planning or analyzing these studies. Researcher bias is reflected in the way questions are framed and peer-review of the questions helps in reducing such bias. Non-response bias could be an important consideration during analysis; making the survey anonymous, brief and interesting and providing incentives to the respondents are some of the ways to mitigate the bias. Recall and self-report biases arise when respondents are unable to recall events or when there is a hesitation to report negative attitudes or outcomes. Statistical methods to be applied depend on the type of data (quantitative or qualitative). The responses to the open-ended questions can be presented thematically if possible.

An important question is how strong is the evidence provided by survey-based research. It exists at the base of the evidence pyramid wherein it lies just above the “opinion of authorities, reports of expert committees/organizations, textbooks”.[10] The survey-based research is inexpensive, allows flexibility in methodology and can receive representation from a large population owing to ease of administration via post or electronic media. However, uncertainties in response rate and errors due to bias are major disadvantages of this study design.[11]

Incorporating all the requisites to research is crucial for it being acknowledged in scientific literature and survey-based research is no exception. Rather than considering it as a convenient and fast method of doing research, it should be dealt with in the same manner as any other study design is. Getting meaningful interpretation rather than just reporting the numbers out of the survey would lead to better acceptance among the journals and the readers. Drive down a hill could give a rush but the sense of achievement after an uphill task is worth all the hard work.



 
  References Top

1.
Search Results. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/?term=survey+based+study+AND+covid19. [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 01].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
A questionnaire based cross sectional pilot survey on adherence to the recognized guidelines by the airway managers during intubation at the time of COVID-19 pandemic 2021;22:40-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Current practice and attitudes regarding the perioperative use of cuffed tracheal tubes for paediatric and neonatal tracheal intubation: A survey based evaluation among Indian anaesthesiologists 2021;22:26-32.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Gault RH. A history of the questionnaire method of research in psychology. Pedagog Semin 1907;14:366-83.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Lau F. Methods for survey studies. In: Lau F, Kuziemsky C, editors. Handbook of E-Health Evaluation: An Evidence-Based Approach. Ch. 13. Victoria, BC: University of Victoria; 2017. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK481602/. [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 02].  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Reporting Guidelines for Main Study Types. Available from: https://www.equator-network.org/. [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 01].  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Eysenbach G. Improving the quality of web surveys: The checklist for reporting results of internet e-surveys (CHERRIES). J Med Internet Res 2004;6:e34.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Peterson R. Constructing Effective Questionnaires. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications; 2000.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Story DA, Tait AR. Survey research. Anesthesiology 2019;130:192-202.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Melnyl BM, Fineout-Overhalt E, editors. Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing and Healthcare: A Guide to Best Practice. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams and Wilkins; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Barribeau P, Butler B, Corney J, Doney M, Gault J, Gordonet J, et al. Survey Research. [email protected] Colorado State University. Available from: https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=68. [Last accessed on 2021 Jan 08].  Back to cited text no. 11
    




 

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