7.7. Testing survey questions: importance of pilot studies
It is always sensible to test a new or modified questionnaire in a small scale pilot survey before circulating it more widely to a larger group of survey participants. Inevitably in the answering and reviewing of the pilot questionnaires, some unanticipated problems will be highlighted, from minor issues such as duplication of question numbers, to misinterpretation of question wording and issues requiring modification of question wording, new response options and/or additional questions.
Box 8 gives an example.
Box 8. Case
study: Pilot surveys in Scotland.
If re-using a well-tried and tested questionnaire, clearly there is less need for a pilot run. However, if new questions are added a small pilot run is still advisable. Almost always some small point has been overlooked or can be improved upon, despite the most careful survey design. Even with an old questionnaire, piloting is often advisable to ensure that questions are still comprehensible and relevant.