Lecturers : Lydia Gisle, Stefaan Demarest, Séverine Henrard, Vincent Lorant (coordinator)

Goal and Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, the student will have learned how to develop a complete survey protocol to answer a specific research question. More specifically, he/she will understand how to:

·         Formulate a research question and develop hypotheses that can be studied using survey methods.

·         Define a sampling frame and determine an appropriate sample method and sample size for a survey

·         Define and operationalize constructs and variables for survey research.

·         Select and evaluate scales and develop basic questions used in health-related surveys.

·         Develop and test a reliable and valid survey questionnaire.

·         Select and apply the mode of data-collection that best fits for a particular survey research.

·         Understand the advantages and disadvantages of new methods of data collection and develop a short web-based questionnaire.

·         Prepare the survey data for analysis (e.g. creating a data dictionary, checking for errors, data entry, data cleaning, etc.).

·         Communicate the results of the survey to different audiences.


Evidence-based decision making in health policy requires to have health data readily available and monitored over time. One way to achieve this goal and obtain valid health-related information is to conduct health surveys. Such surveys also offer an important source of data for epidemiologic research as they allow estimating, amongst other, the prevalence of disorders in a specific population, the use of and access to health care services, the distribution of risky health behaviours across various population groups, or the observance of preventive behaviours. This course is intended to introduce students to the principles of survey methodology and practical aspects of survey design and implementation in the context of health research. It will allow students to conceive and design a survey to gather health-related information that meets a specific research question. This course is instrumental for all students planning to gather their own data/or use survey data in the context of their master or PhD thesis.Evaluation

The students will be evaluated on the development of a health survey protocol. The student can choose to write the protocol either in English or in French. The topic of the survey protocol will be chosen by the student. This topic must be approved by the tutors before the start of the exercise and in particular in the lecture devoted to the essay discussion (see agenda).   For this, each student must provide a brief description of (1) the aim of the survey; (2) the target population; (3) the content of the survey. More details on this exercise will be added to Moodle website later on. The survey must address the aspects discussed during this course (conceptual definitions, sampling issues, development of instruments and questionnaire, outline of fieldwork procedures, '). The protocols are assessed in terms of technical quality, completeness, originality and feasibility (i.e. in budgetary terms and fieldwork organisation terms).

The protocole is individual, uploaded on moodle before the 17th of december  (see essay folder) and presented during the oral examination in january in 10 minutes (5 slides). The choice of the protocole has been validated at the  lecture devoted to “essay discussion”. 

The course will be evaluated at the last session.