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INTRODUCTION

Chapter Objectives

  • Define survey research in pharmacy settings

  • Identify common research questions that can be addressed with survey research in pharmacy settings

  • Understand the practical and technical considerations for conducting survey research in pharmacy settings

  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of developing a new survey or adopting an existing survey (or existing measurement scales) for research in pharmacy settings

  • Discuss the strategies for harnessing the expertise needed for conducting survey research in pharmacy settings

  • Describe an example of a learner-involved survey research project in a pharmacy setting

  • Understand the dissemination framework for survey research in pharmacy settings

Key Terminology

Branching, coverage error, deliberate sampling, in-person surveys, Internet (web-based) surveys, mail surveys, measurement error, mixed mode surveys, nonresponse error, random sampling, response rate, sample, sampling error, sampling frame, target population, telephone surveys, survey research

Survey research is a method used to gather information by asking a relevant group of people questions on a specific topic.1 The survey method is essential when addressing topics such as opinions or individuals’ self-reports about knowledge, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors. Surveys have become a commonly used research tool in healthcare in general and pharmacy in particular. For example, a review of the literature published in 2017 revealed that 52% of all original research articles in high-impact medical education journals used survey research methods.2 In pharmacy, the use of survey research methods can be found in student-, resident-, practitioner-, and researcher-led projects from diverse pharmacy practice settings including health-systems, ambulatory care, community, pharmaceutical industry, managed care organizations, regulatory agencies, and academia.

Despite their common use and the wide availability of tools to support their use, conducting a survey research project is not easy and involves many considerations. The purpose of this chapter is to provide practical guidance to develop, administer, and report survey research. It begins by defining and discussing the steps in the process of conducting a survey research project and describing various research questions in pharmacy settings that can be addressed with survey research. A number of practical and technical considerations for conducting survey research in pharmacy settings are outlined, including a discussion of the trade-offs between developing a new survey tool versus using or adapting existing surveys or measures. Finally, an example of a learner-involved project involving the use of survey research in a pharmacy setting is described to demonstrate the application of the various considerations involved in the process. This chapter can help learners who are planning to develop a survey, administer new or existing surveys to conduct research, and/or assess the quality of a research article employing survey methods.

STEPS IN SURVEY RESEARCH

Alreck and Settle outline six major steps in the survey research process: (1) specifying information needs, (2) sampling design, (3) instrumentation, (4) data collection, (5) data processing, and (6) report generation.3 These steps correspond with the basic steps of the ...

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