search  | feedback
  based practice
  risk management
  writing policy
  & organisational
  data analysis
  social capital
  training workshops
  ideas & articles
  about us
  disclaimer | copyright

  Alternatives Pty Ltd
  ABN 23 050 334 435

Contents | 1. Introduction | 2. Steps | 3. Practicalities | 4. Examples | 5. Client questionnaires
6. Standardized tools | 7. On-line surveys | 8. Checklists | 9. Resources

1. Questionnaires in human services

Questionnaires can vary from very simple to very complex. Some questionnaires are intended to be given to 30 people. Others are intended to be given to thousands of people.

Some terms that are in common use are:

  • Survey - a process for selecting a sample of respondents and systematically administering a questionnaire to them
  • Poll - often refers to public opinion polls where the sample is from the public and the topic is of public interest
  • Questionnaire - the set of questions being asked in a survey process.

Questionnaires can be completed in many different ways, for example:

  • Paper questionnaires
  • Web based questionnaires
  • Fact to face interviews
  • Telephone interviews

There are pros and cons for each approach.

Surveys (and so questionnaires) can be used for a variety of purposes including:

  • Exploring
  • Describing
  • Explaining

In practice there are many ways of using questionnaires in human services including:

  • Opportunities for feedback from clients
  • Opportunities for feedback from staff and committee members
  • Systematic data collection about clients and/or services
  • Accreditation processes
  • Research into service provision and outcomes
  • Needs assessments
  • Market research.

Agencies developing questionnaires can:

  • Developed their own questions
  • Modify others' questions for their own use
  • Use others' questions as is
  • Use standardized tools/questionnaires

There are costs and benefits in each of these approaches. If you develop your own questions the questions are likely to be relevant to your needs but you may not be able to make comparisons between your agency's clients and another agency's clients.

If you use standardised questions comparisons with other agencies will be easier but the questions may be less relevant.

A standardised client questionnaire may be longer than what you want and so impact on the service delivery process whereas one developed specifically for your clients may be able to be designed to be more appropriate for the service delivery process.

The tools and examples here are intended as pointers for people working in small community organisations providing human services.

There is considerable literature on questionnaire design and analysis. See the section on resources.