Keys to Successful Survey Research in Health Professions Education

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Survey research is well suited to measuring the knowledge, behavior, and attitudes of study participants and has been widely used in medical education and pulmonary and critical care medicine research. Although the ease of survey administration via electronic platforms has led to an increased volume of survey publications, improving the quality of this work remains an important challenge. Objective: To provide an overview of key steps for rigorous survey design and conduct. Methods: Narrative review. Results: Conducting survey research begins with a clearly defined research question pertaining to a specified population that is accessible for sampling. Survey investigators may choose to adapt relevant preexisting survey instruments, an approach with the potential for conducting more valid, generalizable, and comparable studies. If a new survey tool is used, more extensive piloting and psychometric analysis of the survey instruments may be needed to assess if they accurately measure the concepts of interest. When administering the survey, the use of appropriate methods for sample recruitment maximizes the chances of a high response rate in a generalizable study population. Finally, when writing up and disseminating survey research, careful attention to reporting guidelines can increase the clarity of survey reports and assist readers in interpreting the results and conclusions. Conclusion: With careful attention to study design and conduct, the quality of survey research can be improved and lead to higher impact and more generalizable studies in the fields of medical education and pulmonary and critical care medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-217
Number of pages12
JournalATS Scholar
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • critical care
  • medical education
  • pulmonary
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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