Lessons Learned From an Online Study with Dual-smoker Couples.Am J Health Behav 2017; 41(1):61-66AJ
In this paper we present lessons learned from an online study assessing couples' health behaviors.
We conducted an online cross-sectional study to assess health behaviors of dual-smoker couples. Participants were recruited via passive and targeted methods. Data were collected from 77 (pre-safeguard) and 197 (post-safeguard) participants. Safeguards included: (1) changing the incentive from prepaid card to raffle; (2) allowing only one IP address per response; (3) masking eligibility; (4) adding multiple questions to ensure consistency in responses; and (5) emphasizing data surveillance. We computed descriptive statistics using SAS 9.4 to compare enrollment rates and validity of data between the pre- and post-safeguard participants.
Although 77 entries were collected within 24 hours (presafeguards), 5 responses were ineligible and excluded. Among the remaining 72 entries, 68.1 were fraudulent as either multiple data entries (24.5) and/or conflict in responses to similar survey items (83.7). Once safeguards were administered (post-safeguards), data collection took longer to obtain 297 participants, which included 27 ineligibles. Among the 270 eligible participants, 35.9 were fraudulent due to conflicting responses to similar survey items.
Online data collection via surveys should use safeguards to capture valid data. Many safeguards exist, which researchers should consider when designing online survey projects.