Asking Questions that Matter
“Knowledge is Power”
Know what your objectives are and how they relate to your greater business goals. It sounds obvious, but start simple: what do you want to know and how will you use that information? As you move through the question development process, continue to question yourself and/or your team by asking, “What is the purpose for asking the question(s)?”
Questions can also help you measure success, but in order to write a productive question, you need to understand what success may look like.
Once you have established your objectives, use them as a checkpoint while you write your questions. During and after the question writing process, challenge yourself and/or your team as to whether the question is still important. Questions that were “must ask” at the beginning of the process can become unimportant or irrelevant by the end of the project and are essentially ignored during the reporting process.
“What You Talkin’ ‘bout Willis?”
Understand the nature of your questions. Questions can be observational or investigational. They can measure the knowledge, attitude, opinion, or belief of the respondent. For example, does your question address the knowledge of the respondent, their clinical experience, or their beliefs and values related to patient care?
Again, it’s easy to ignore the obvious when you are caught up in a project or working toward an important objective. After writing your question, reevaluate it to think about what type of question it is.
“So, What? Who Cares?”
Consider how your questions will matter to the respondent. Ask yourself how much they care about the topic. Considering this will help you anticipate how much your respondents will think about their answers. How much they care may improve the quality of their response. It may also impact how many responses you get. The more they care about the topic of the survey, the more likely they will feel compelled to answer your questions (their call to action).
“I Want an Oompa Loompa Now!”
Know what information you need vs want. This will help to prioritize questions in the event that you have a lengthy survey. A shorter survey will help increase your chances of a higher response rate.
“An Inconvenient Truth”
Understand that the questions may not always tell you what you want to hear. They may give you negative feedback or inconclusive information, but these outcomes can be even more beneficial! That is, negative information can sometimes provide more insight into how your audience perceives the topic than positive information. With healthcare professionals in the P2P setting, we often get positive survey results due to social bias, lack of attention when completing the survey, indifference on the topic, etc.
After all, why ask the question if you don’t want to hear the response?