Because we focus solely on health care research, the Survey Research Program brings a uniquely well-informed perspective to studies at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) and elsewhere. Our experience is both broad and deep—and the many examples below show the diversity of our capabilities, populations, methods, and topics of study.
The Health and Relationships Study team faced a unique challenge. They were studying sensitive topics: dating violence, sexual behaviors, and alcohol use. And they needed to engage hundreds of 18 to 21 year olds in a 40-minute survey. The Survey Research Program helped the team develop a mixed-mode approach (phone and web surveys) paired with participant incentives to maximize response—completing the project on time and under budget.
Conducting surveys with respondents as young as 11 years requires interpersonal skill and a delicate touch—particularly when the topic of study is sensitive. That’s why the Adolescent Screening Study came to us to field their multi-mode recruitment effort for a study on adolescent depression and other emotional health issues. Our staff obtained consent from children and parents, successfully recruiting the study team’s target of 444 families in less than five months. During follow-up, we also conducted phone surveys with some parents about family mental health history and coordinated consent and saliva kit mailings for the teens.
Today, many research studies need to include data collection tailored to individual respondent characteristics—as in the Patient Portal Study, which examined medication adherence among HIV-positive adults. Because HIV medications differ dramatically among respondents, the survey needed to be customized around complex skip patterns. We used powerful and flexible web survey software to design a data collection instrument that included photographs of medications and related questions tailored to the respondent’s situation. The program also sent email notifications based on conditional responses.
Achieving geographic and ethnic diversity are important goals for most studies. For the SUrveillance, PREvention, and ManagEment of Diabetes Mellitus (SUPREME) Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Study, we recruited post-partum women from three regions across the country and conducted more than 700 interviews in both English and Spanish. We tailored calling over more than 1,500 hours, maximizing participant contact and helping the study team achieve the diversity it was aiming for.
Facing a tight timeline, the Medical Side Effects Study needed to investigate adverse reactions to medications—in a population of adults who had gained more than 7 percent of their body weight after being prescribed an antipsychotic medication. We efficiently conducted eligibility screening and baseline interviews by phone and coordinated biospecimen collection via mailed saliva kits and consent forms. Our expedient approach to data collection and follow-up helped the study team stay on schedule while exceeding their initial recruitment goals.
Multi-site studies require an organized and flexible approach to recruitment and data collection. The MsFLASH Network conducted a series of studies on menopause at five different sites, each of which needed a tailored script. Recruitment activities also had to adapt quickly to sites’ changing needs—sometimes stopping and restarting at one site to stay in sync with updated study protocols. The Survey Research Program rose to the challenge, efficiently screening more than 12,000 women across two MsFLASH studies—and coordinating baseline mailings and reminder calls to all who were eligible.
For more information about KPWHRI's Survey Research Program, please contact:
Manager, Survey Research Program
MPE, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute