WellStar School of Nursing

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When conducting online survey research, obtaining an adequate response rate in order to have meaningful, reliable data can be challenging. In our study examining hospital unit-level data, a 40% response rate was needed to adequately reflect the degree to which unit staff perceived one another as trustworthy. In addition, approximately 150 units were needed to analyze the relationship between perceived trustworthiness and selected operational and quality outcomes.

In spite of following best practices for survey research (e.g., careful communication planning, short survey length) in a multi-hospital study system, most of the units’ response rates were inadequate to include the units in analyses. To gain a better understanding of what motivates unit staff to participate in a survey and what “turns off” unit staff from participating, we collaborated with one of the site study coordinators to conduct focus groups with nursing staff, managers and leaders.

Following changes identified from the focus groups, along with implementing online survey best practices, the number of units which met the 40% response rate increased from < 20% of eligible units to > 30% at the original hospital and 47% and 50% at two additional hospitals thereafter.

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SAGE Research Methods Cases: Medicine and Health

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Nursing Commons