— Quality Studies Depend on Quality Data Collection: Tips & Techniques for Selecting, Training & Retaining Quality Interviewers
Erschens HJ, Iowa City VAHCS CADRE; Franciscus CL, Iowa City VAHCS CADRE; Mengeling MA, Iowa City VAHCS CADRE; Booth BM, CEMHOR COE & University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR; Torner JC, Iowa City VAHCS and Carver College of Medicine Public Health Division, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Sadler AG, Iowa City VAHCS CADRE;
To describe a process of recruiting, training and retaining quality interviewers for computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) with female OEF/OIF Regular Military and Reserve and National Guard post-deployment populations that resulted in high participant satisfaction evidenced by feedback.
14 female interviewers were hired for two consecutive studies consisting of over 1,300 interviews, averaging 90 minutes in length, completed during a 13-month period. Prior experience supported recruiting interviewers with previous research experience and/or customer service/interpersonal skills. Training was designed to educate interviewers about human subjects’ research, study-specific topics, including dealing with sensitive information, and protocol to insure participant safety and safeguard against adverse events. Training was conducted in a group and one-on-one, including a test interview, to insure consistency of method. Motivational tools, such as interview progress charts, appreciation dinners/certificates and debriefing, were used to boost morale, group cohesion, and interviewer retention. Quality assurance (QA) protocol required random selection of 3% of interviews and an additional one per interviewer per month. QA interviews were approximately 2 minutes in duration. Subjects were re-asked a small number of CATI questions to determine consistency of responses, and then to rate their interviewer on professionalism, understandability of questions, and satisfaction with participation in the study using a rating scale from 1(low) to 5(high). All aspects of QA were tracked using a Microsoft Access 2007 database, and interviews were conducted using Blaise CATI software.
100% (8) of the interviewers completing the first study agreed to continue with the second study Of the 141 QA interviews completed, 89% of respondents rated the professionalism of the interviewer as 5(high). 64% rated the understandability interview questions as 5. 72% rated their level of satisfaction with participating at the highest level.
Using these methods (that will be further detailed) leads to higher staff retention, consistency of data, satisfied participants, and reduced cost associated with hiring and training new interviewers.
For many subjects, these studies were their first experience with the VA. By making it a positive one, this may lead to increased willingness to seek care at a VA or participate in future VA research. These interventions decrease research budget costs.