Understanding Patient-Centred Data Collection: Interviews vs. Surveys
When it comes to gathering patient-centred data, interviews and surveys are two distinct approaches, each with their own unique purpose.
Let’s explore why interviews stand apart from surveys:
In an interview, there is direct interaction between the interviewer and the participant.1 The interviewer asks questions typically using a semi-structured discussion guide. This allows for a more dynamic and in-depth conversation. In contrast, a survey typically involves the participant responding to pre-determined questions usually without direct interaction.
During an interview, the interviewer can adapt the questions based on the participant’s responses and delve deeper into specific topics.1 This flexibility allows for more nuanced exploration of symptoms, impacts, and experiences. Surveys, on the other hand, generally have a fixed set of questions that are designed to be applicable to a larger population.
3. Contextual understanding
Interviews provide an opportunity to gather qualitative data and gain a deeper understanding of the participant’s perspectives and experiences.2 Through follow-up questions and probing, interviewers can explore the underlying reasons behind responses, uncover additional insights, and capture the participant’s thought process. Surveys, while useful for gathering quantitative data from a larger sample, often lack the richness and contextual understanding that interviews can provide.
4. Time and resources
Conducting interviews typically requires more time and resources compared to surveys. Interviews involve scheduling and coordinating with individual participants, conducting the interviews, transcribing and analysing the collected data. Surveys can reach a larger number of respondents at once, making them more efficient for collecting data from a larger population.
Overall, while both interviews and surveys are valuable data collection methods, interviews offer a more interactive and qualitative approach, allowing for deeper exploration and understanding of individual perspectives and experiences. Surveys, on the other hand, are more suitable for gathering quantitative data from a larger sample size and providing a broader overview of experiences or opinions within a population.
Jain, N. (2021). Survey Versus Interviews: Comparing Data Collection Tools for Exploratory Research. The Qualitative Report, 26(2), 541-554. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2021.4492
DeJonckheere M, Vaughn LM. (2019). Semi structured interviewing in primary care research: a balance of relationship and rigour. Family Medicine and Community Health. 7e000057. doi: 10.1136/fmch-2018-000057