Saturday, June 16, 2007

Surveys of the Spine

There seem to be an inordinate amount of research surveys studying people with spinal cord injuries out there. When I was first injured and received an email or request to do a survey, I cheerfully agreed. But after over a decade, I'm rather tired of being studied.

It's not that I don't want there to be studies done that could help people, but the questions on many of these surveys are the same, even when the researcher claims to be studying a new facet of living with a spinal cord injury. And because I'm a quad, filling the surveys out can be anything from tedious to hit and miss anyhow. Which makes me wonder if the results they're getting are valid. But more on that later.

For example, about a month ago one of my friend's friends was sending out surveys and looking for paralyzed people. So my friend dropped my name. (Don't you hate that? Oh yeah, I have a paralyzed friend. She'll do it!) Anyhow I decided to do the survey. A screen came up with various questions and I'm thinking "I saw these before!" Mostly they were questions about quality of life issues, asking if you work, play, etc. with your spinal cord injury. I always wish it was fill in the blank. "Do you participate in recreational activities with your spinal cord injury?" "Yes I bring it with me all the time!" And for the work questions "I only bring it on Take Your Spinal Cord to Work Day."

But sadly it's not fill in the blank. It never is. Just those little dots on the page where you have to pick from 1 to 10. So I'm sitting there aiming my electronic head cursor so I can click the tiny little dots. It's like taking the SAT's in an earthquake. Sometimes you're going to miss even if your life depended on it. The best I can do is if I want to answer somewhere around 5, I just aim in that general area. If I hit 6,7 or 3,4 or 5 I don't bother to change it. If I'm off a lot and hit the numbers on the way ends, then maybe I'll fix it. I call it the quad differential.

Then I thought to myself: maybe you're not the only one doing this and that's why they keep repeating the same questions in these surveys. They just can't get accurate results and it's all your fault , you head cursoring quad.

Wow. That kind of shook me up. I considered stopping the survey. But then I thought - heck no, you know there's only 20 more questions to go and you've already answered 40. You just don't walk away from tests - or surveys -with those cute little dots - in the middle. That would be downright un-American.

There were a few questions at the end I haven't seen before. I think three of them.

I bet they'll be on the next survey I do. Which,hopefully, won't be real soon.

1 comment:

Penny L. Richards said...

Those "somewhat agree, strongly agree" questionnaires just annoy me, anyway--they're rarely worded well, and I never have a simple numerical answer to the question they ask. If they want to ask me open-ended questions, let me answer my way, and code the answers afterwards, fine, but I'm not going to fit my answers into a five-point spectrum, just to make their data neater.