Sample Survey for Assessing Risk Communication Needs
Approximately what percentage of your on-the-job time, on average, do you spend interacting with the public?_____
What are the different publics you communicate with? (check all that apply)
[ ] community members [ ] local government officials [ ] state government officials [ ] reporters [ ] environmental groups [ ] health professionals [ ] other, please specify_____________________________
- What do you think will most help you improve your communication with the public?
- What do you think will most help your organization improve its communication with the public?
- What kind of assistance in dealing with the public would you most like to have?
- If your organization provides training on communicating with the public, what should it be sure to include?
- What should it be sure to avoid?
- Any other comments?
2. Individual Interviews (telephone or in person)
Purpose: Can answer questions similar to self-administered questionnaires; probe for individual's responses, and beliefs; discuss range of issues
Application: Develop hypotheses, messages, potentially motivating strategies; discuss sensitive issues or complex draft materials
Number of Respondants: Dependent on variables of issue urgency and complexity, time, and money. For a ballpark figure, get 10 opinions.
Resources Required: List of respondents; discussion guide/questionnaire; trained interviewer, telephone or quiet room, tape recorder (optional)
Pros: In-depth responses may differ from first response; can test sensitive or emotional materials; can test more complex/longer materials; can learn more about "hard-to-reach" audiences; can be used with individuals who have limited reading and writing skills
Cons: Time consuming to conduct/analyze; expensive; may yield to firmer conclusions or consensus
3. Focus Group Interviews
Purpose: To obtain insight into the target audience's perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about draft materials. Readability and understandability of print materials can also be addressed.
Application: Testing broad concepts, issues, audiovisual or print materials, and logos or other artwork.
Number of Respondants: 8-10 group. Usually, the number of groups is dependent on program needs and resources. Minimum 2 groups per type of respondent. When target audience perceptions are comparable, additional focus group sessions are not necessary.
Resources Required: Participants representative of the target audience, recruitment screening instrument, moderator's guide, trained moderator, focus group facility with one-way mirror and audio-and videotape capability (optional).
Pros: Capture of real-life data in a social environment where the moderator can interact directly with respondents; group interaction and length of discussion can stimulate more in-depth responses than individual interviews; can discuss concepts prior to materials development; can gather more opinions at once than individual interviews; can cover multiple topics; flexibility and ability to probe for more information; high face validity and an easily understood technique compared to sophisticated survey research employing complex statistical analyses; provision of data more quickly than individual interviews; and richness of data as the group participants react and build upon the responses of others in an open format.
Cons: Too few responses for consensus or decisionmaking; no individual responses (group influence) unless combined with other methods; can be expensive; respondents choose to attend and may not be typical of the target population; less control of the responses by the moderator than in individual interviews; difficult analysis of data (e.g., summarization, interpretation); special skills are required of moderators and moderator bias may occur; troublesome differences between groups (e.g., opposite responses); difficulty in recruiting participants; can be expensive; and logistical problems (e.g., arranging location, dates, and times, incentive payments, and refreshments).