NORC Final Report: Healthy People User Study. Study Design


The 2008 User Study collected data using a mailed, self-administered questionnaire (SAQ), which was sent to members of state, local, and tribal health organizations/agencies. Each individual was asked to complete the one-time survey, lasting approximately 15 minutes, on behalf of his or her organization. Survey results were then summarized within and across organization/agency type. As mentioned, the survey was designed to ascertain how state, local, and tribal health organizations/agencies use Healthy People 2010, whether the use of Healthy People 2010 has changed during the decade, and how these organizations/agencies anticipate using Healthy People 2020. The questionnaire consisted of four sections, which are outlined below:

  1. Background Information. Captured data about organizational/agency characteristics such as type, size, and health priorities of organization/agency, as well as the job title of the respondent.
  2. Uses of Healthy People 2010. Captured data about whether the organization/agency uses Healthy People 2010, how it uses the initiative, and factors that enable or hinder its use within the organization/agency.
  3. Uses of Healthy People 2020. Captured data—from respondents who report their organization/agency does use Healthy People 2010—about organization/agencies’ anticipated uses of Healthy People 2020, and desired format of Healthy People 2020.
  4. Non-Users of Healthy People 2010. Captured data from respondents who report their organization/agency does not use Healthy People 2010 on why it does not use the initiative, barriers to use, and ascertains general perceptions about the initiative.

The format described above allowed for the collection of essential demographic information on all respondents, regardless of their use of Healthy People. By asking respondents about their current uses of Healthy People 2010 before asking about their anticipated uses of Healthy People 2020, the questionnaire enabled respondents to fully consider the activities and uses they were most familiar with, and then identify how Healthy People can be improved. This survey design was developed by reviewing and revising the questionnaire from the 2005 User Assessment. In addition to reviewing the key findings of the 2005 User Assessment, input was also gathered to include questions measuring the impact of HHS-sponsored activities that have taken place over the past three years, as well as planning activities that are currently underway to prepare the next decade’s set of national objectives for health promotion and disease prevention. Since the 2008 User Study did not address HealthierUS, there was an opportunity to develop a questionnaire that included more detailed questions on some other issues pertaining to Healthy People 2010, while still minimizing respondent burden. Key research questions that framed the data collection strategy for the 2008 User Study can be found in Exhibit 1.

After completing the survey data collection, 10 informal discussions were conducted with users and non-users of Healthy People 2010, from each of the respondent groups. These discussions lasted between fifteen and thirty minutes and provide qualitative information on utilization of Healthy People 2010, and ways the next iteration could be improved.

A pretest of the survey instrument was conducted to ensure the questions and available responses were clear to respondents and that the questions captured the intended information. The study questionnaire was mailed to three former employees of tribal health organizations and four former state Chronic Disease Directors. Pre-testing participants were identified by the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) and The National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, ensuring the questionnaire was tested by people similar to those in the survey sample. These participants completed the questionnaire on their own, and then participated in a modified cognitive interview with NORC staff; reviewing the structure and context of the questionnaire and providing feedback on their understanding and perceptions of the survey. Findings from the pretest were incorporated into the final study questionnaire. The study received clearance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB Clearance Number 0990-0329). The final questionnaire is included as Appendix 1.

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