Methods for the design and administration of web-based surveys

J Am Med Inform Assoc. Jul-Aug 2000;7(4):416-25. doi: 10.1136/jamia.2000.0070416.


This paper describes the design, development, and administration of a Web-based survey to determine the use of the Internet in clinical practice by 450 dental professionals. The survey blended principles of a controlled mail survey with data collection through a Web-based database application. The survey was implemented as a series of simple HTML pages and tested with a wide variety of operating environments. The response rate was 74.2 percent. Eighty-four percent of the participants completed the Web-based survey, and 16 percent used e-mail or fax. Problems identified during survey administration included incompatibilities/technical problems, usability problems, and a programming error. The cost of the Web-based survey was 38 percent less than that of an equivalent mail survey. A general formula for calculating breakeven points between electronic and hardcopy surveys is presented. Web-based surveys can significantly reduce turnaround time and cost compared with mail surveys and may enhance survey item completion rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Data Collection / economics
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Dentists
  • Hypermedia
  • Internet* / economics
  • Internet* / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postal Service / economics
  • Practice Management, Dental*
  • Time Factors