• Presentation

Questionnaire Design Considerations When Expanding a Survey Target Population to Include Children


LeBaron, P., & Granger, R. K. (2010, May). Questionnaire Design Considerations When Expanding a Survey Target Population to Include Children. Presented at AAPOR 2010, .


When designing a questionnaire, survey practitioners are challenged with developing questions that are appropriate for all respondents within the target population. This task becomes increasingly difficult when the same survey instrument will be administered to both children and adults.

This presentation will examine factors to be considered when asking children to respond to the same survey items asked of adults. The authors will present a review of the literature, citing cognitive difficulties that younger respondents encounter when reporting past behaviors. Questions may have to be reworded to allow younger respondents to comprehend questions within a given questionnaire. Survey designers can also expect younger respondents to have greater difficulty recalling past behaviors, hindering their ability to make reports on these behaviors.

In order to evaluate the impact of expanding the target population of an existing survey on questionnaire design and unit and item nonresponse, the authors will examine data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The NSDUH is an annual face-to-face, household survey that interviews people 12 years old and older sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and is the nation's leading source of information on substance use behaviors. We will examine differences in item missing data, unit nonresponse and timing data between minors in the sample. This analysis will show how the response behavior of 12 year olds differs from 13 year olds, and how these differ from 14 year olds, for example. The differences in data quality and respondent behavior between these two age groups will provide insight into the effects of administering a survey to respondents under 12. This presentation will provide suggestions to questionnaire designers that are either designing new questionnaires for younger populations or those that are amending existing instruments to be administered to younger respondents.