There are 3 main approaches to surveys in REDCap

  1. Public survey. A single link (URL) is created for the survey that can be distributed by email, social media or web page. The URL is not specific to an individual, so the survey could potentially be completed multiple times by one person. Provided no identifying information is collected, the data are anonymous.
  2. Distribution list. The survey is the only instrument in the project. A list of email addresses (one per line) can be pasted to the "add participants" window on the "participant list" tab under "manage survey participants". Click "compose survey invitations" to write the body of the email and set reply to address and reminder notifications. Provided "participant identifier" is not enabled, and no identifiable information is collected, the survey is anonymous and no link is retained between the email address and the record. The advantages of using a distribution list include calculating response rate, programming automatic reminders and knowing who to chase for a response.    
  3. Identifiable individual survey. The survey is sent to named participants using a designated email field. Only one designated email field is permitted per project. Automatic invitations can be programmed and multiple surveys can be linked and opened in a series. With the survey queue function, complex survey schedules can be created. 



Setting up an identifiable individual survey

  1. Add a primary email field in one of the instruments. 
  2. Enable surveys while in development mode (project setup>main project settings) and enable "designate an email field..." (project setup>enable optional modules and customisations).
  3. In the online designer tab click "enable" to turn a data collection instrument into a survey (it can still be used as a standard data collection form as well).
  4. Click the survey settings button on the online designer tab to determine survey format settings. Options include:
    1. Survey title (will be displayed at top of form when viewed as a survey) 
    2. Survey instructions (will be displayed at top of form when viewed as a survey). This can also be added to the survey as a descriptive text field (preferred).
    3. Logo (optional check box to display logo instead of survey title) 
    4. Font type & size, and colour theme
    5. Question numbering - use custom as automatic numbering does not work with branching logic
    6. Display format - select "all on one page"
    7. Survey expiration date
    8. Save and return later function - if required, select yes and check the box to "allow participants to return and modify completed responses"
    9. Termination options - if another survey form is to start automatically, then check the box to allow "auto-continue to next survey" (Survey Queue overrides this option) 
    10. Survey completed text - if using auto-continue then add "Thank you, the next questionnaire will open automatically". With the survey queue, this will only be displayed on the last survey.
    11. Send confirmation email to participant
  5. To get an email notification when a participant completes a survey, go to online designer>survey notifications. Select the correct email address and check the box for "notifications enabled". Additional email address can be entered by going to my projects>my profile (top right corner).
  6. Automated invitations can be set up in online designer>automated invitations. Do this for the first survey in the queue, and then use either survey queue function or the terminations option in each survey to set up the survey order.
    1. Email message: Select "from" address and enter email subject line. Compose a message in the free text box. Piping can be used to personalise the greeting and instructions.
    2. Specify conditions for sending the invitation
    3. Choose time when to send
    4. Choose reminders
    5. Automatic invitations can be turned off by checking "not active"
  7. Complex surveys with multiple forms are best set up in online designer>survey queue. Choose appropriate survey display options and remember to check "auto start"

Other options for using surveys

  1. Surveys can be used face-to-face with the participant by opening the form and selecting survey options>open survey.
  2. Manual email invitation. Select survey options>compose survey invitation.
  3. Create a survey code that can be entered online or via a QR code. This function may be useful for participants that don't have email (e.g., the code could be sent by text or on Facebook).

Options 2 and 3 can also accessed via the "Manage survey participants" tab.   


  • No labels