Survey Data Collection: Operationalizing the Research Design


  • Eugenie Hildebrandt Ph.D., R.N.

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    1. Eugenie Hildebrandt is Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Nursing.
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Address correspondence to Eugenie Hildebrandt, Ph.D., R.N., Assistant Professor, University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Nursing, Quad-Cities Program, 2525 24th Street, Suite 202, Rock Island, IL 61265.


Abstract This article describes how indigenous interviewers were used to collect data about the health needs and resources in a black South African township. The survey was done during the dismantling of the apartheid political system of South Africa. The political unrest, distrust, and tension were barriers to carrying out a survey and threatened the quality of the data collection. A vulnerability of survey research is the difficulty in controlling the variables of the community and the interviewer during the process of data collection. How this survey was carried out, in this unstable setting, influenced the quality of the data and the validity and reliability of the research. The data-collection requirements were carried out in a way that was functional in the real-world setting while maintaining research standards. The criteria used for hiring interviewers and the content and delivery of training were effective in this tense, educationally disadvantaged community setting. Methods that were used to motivate and supervise interviewers were successful and are recommended for use in similar survey research.