Surveys are an effective way to gather information to achieve aims like conducting research to inform a plan and evaluating the success of a project or program.

How Communications & Public Affairs can help

PHC Communications & Public Affairs is here to help provide advice and guidance on how you can structure your survey to get the information you’re looking for, as well as identify opportunities on how to get the word out about your survey.

Communications & Public Affairs gets involved when:

  • clients are developing a survey intended for an all-staff audience
  • clients are seeking advice on how to distribute a survey based on unique audience needs (patient, resident or client surveys)
  • clients are seeking advice on the timing of a survey

Accessing our PHC/VCH survey tool

This is a robust and secure survey tool hosted by PHC and VCH (preferable to using a web-based tool such as SurveyMonkey, which takes the data outside of PHC and VCH firewalls). The survey tool can be used to create a wide variety of surveys including functions like simple branching, free-form comments and images. Visit the PHC/VCH survey tool page on VCH Connect or contact Collaboration Support at to gain access. Once you create a user account, Collaboration Support will send you instructions on how to use the survey tool.

What if I want to use another survey tool?

Free survey tools like SurveyMonkey are a great way to quickly and easily get feedback. Because many services like SurveyMonkey store their information in computers located outside of Canada, there may be some situations where using external survey tools may raise issues with information privacy policies. For more information, contact

How to create and administer effective surveys

Adapted from an online resource published by the SurveyMonkey Help Center

An important goal as a survey author is to construct clear, direct questions using the language that survey participants will understand. While there are no set rules on the wording of these questions, there are some basic principles that do work to improve the overall design. Most importantly, make sure your survey is relevant, accurate and valid.

Be familiar with the questions + know the objectives + know the kinds of information needed = RELEVANCY

Considerations for creating effective survey questions

The types of questions you use play a role in producing unbiased or relevant survey responses. As the author, consider what questions to use and when it is appropriate to use them. Are open-ended (comments, essays, etc.) or close-ended (multiple choice, yes/no, etc.) questions more appropriate? Ultimately, it is the type of question that determines the kind of information that is collected.

Be brief — be objective — be simple — be specific
A good design should help to stimulate recall; it should motivate the respondent to answer and the sequence of questions should help to create a certain flow through the survey. It is good practice to avoid the unintentional violation of a survey’s objectivity, so avoid the following:

1. Leading questions:

You don’t want to lead your respondents to answering questions a certain way based on the wording or structure of them.

Example: We have recently upgraded our intranet site to be a first class tool. What are your thoughts on the first class site?

Replace with: What are your thoughts on the changes we have made to our intranet site?

2. Loaded questions:

Loaded questions work through emotionally charged items like words, stereotypes, etc. This too can push respondents towards a specific answer.

3. Built in assumptions:

Do not ask questions that assume the respondents are familiar with the specifics.

4. Use simple language — no jargon:

Use words that are direct and familiar to the respondents. Try not to use jargon or technical concepts. Avoid double negatives and double barreled questions. Double barreled questions split questions into more than one part, idea or meaning. The answer choice for each part might have separate meanings to the ideas presented within the one question.

Example: How useful do you find our XYZ form and the supporting help resource?

Replace with: Question 1: How useful do you find XYZ form? Question 2: How useful is the XYZ form help resource?

Sample Survey