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Survey Says? A Primer on Web-Based Survey Design and Distribution

Oppenheimer, Adam J. M.D.; Pannucci, Christopher J. M.D., M.S.; Kasten, Steven J. M.D.; Haase, Steven C. M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: July 2011 - Volume 128 - Issue 1 - p 299-304
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182174413
Special Topics

Summary: The Internet has changed the way in which we gather and interpret information. Although books were once the exclusive bearers of data, knowledge is now only a keystroke away. The Internet has also facilitated the synthesis of new knowledge. Specifically, it has become a tool through which medical research is conducted. A review of the literature reveals that in the past year, over 100 medical publications have been based on Web-based survey data alone. Because of emerging Internet technologies, Web-based surveys can now be launched with little computer knowledge. They may also be self-administered, eliminating personnel requirements. Ultimately, an investigator may build, implement, and analyze survey results with speed and efficiency, obviating the need for mass mailings and data processing. All of these qualities have rendered telephone and mail-based surveys virtually obsolete. Despite these capabilities, Web-based survey techniques are not without their limitations, namely, recall and response biases. When used properly, however, Web-based surveys can greatly simplify the research process. This article discusses the implications of Web-based surveys and provides guidelines for their effective design and distribution.

Ann Arbor, Mich.

From the Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Michigan.

Received for publication April 13, 2010; accepted October 5, 2010.

Disclosure:The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. Dr. Pannucci receives salary support from the National Institutes of Health T32 grant program (T32 GM-08616).

Adam J. Oppenheimer, M.D., Section of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, 2130 Taubman Center, Box 0340, 1500 East Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48109,

©2011American Society of Plastic Surgeons