Prioritising your findings
Presentation of the data is just as important as the analysis, development and the execution of the survey. How you focus, design, and present a report will go on to facilitate the transformation of the data collected into real actionable outcomes. To help you decide which issues to focus on in your report you may wish to consider the following:
How to prioritise findings
- Ranking issues will enable you to focus on the most important issues. This includes the use of regression analysis to discover underlying trends between the factors that affect care.
- Select issues that compare unfavourably with national, regional, local norms or with benchmark institutions such as the CQC. Additionally, comparing results within your own organisation can facilitate the sharing of information about effective practices and drive improvement efforts.
- Compare findings with historical data to prioritise areas for improvement. Analysis of trends allows you to focus on correcting aspects of performance that are slipping, although you should confirm any apparent changes between years are statistically significant.
- Many organisations focus initially on the issues that are easiest to improve. By demonstrating successful interventions, this prioritisation method can rally support for more difficult improvement efforts later on.
- Set threshold or target goals prior to the survey. This is particularly effective when there is clear consensus on what those goals should be. These internal benchmarks can be based on areas in need of massive improvement or be further efforts to elevate areas already considered excellent.
Writing the report
User-friendly reports that enable readers to understand and begin to take action on key issues are critical to the success of any survey project. The following suggestions will help you produce useful reports:
Tailor the document to the audience
- Use brief, succinct summaries for executive audiences, and emphasise the highest priority items for action or commendation.
- Include comprehensive summaries for those who will implement improvements. They will help achieve buy-in and generate action.
- A separate resource booklet or USB flash drive with full details may be important if staff or researchers have questions.
- Data that is displayed visually can be easier to interpret and keep readers engaged for longer.
- Display trends or comparisons in bar charts and line charts, making sure to use a legend, data labels and explaining each chart’s significance.
- Use free text quotes in boxes to highlight and further your argument.
- Remember that colours don’t photocopy or fax very well. Keep printing requirements in mind when designing your report.
- Keep the format succinct and consistent.
Graphics, bullets, tables and other visuals help guide the reader. Too many types of visual elements can detract from the message so only choose a few and use them consistently.
Thinking about reports:
- Consider how the report flows, by introducing each new finding, chart or acronym as they arrive you can keep your reader engaged as well as make your points easier.
- Ask someone else to proofread a report before you finish it. Often small or large changes can be easily spotted by a colleague.
There are some restrictions on the data that survey contractors can share with trusts.
If data is to be presented to trust staff, only the aggregated totals for each question can be provided. If analysis by subgroup is carried out, the results for any group consisting of fewer than 30 respondents must be suppressed.
This not only applies to quantitative data but also free-text comments. For example, it is permissible to link free-text comments to a specific ward if 30 patients from that ward completed the questionnaire, even if only 6 of these respondents left a free-text comment. However, if 25 patients from the ward responded and 15 of these patients left a free-text comment, then these comments must not be linked to that ward.
Please note that any identifying information in free-text comments must be removed before the comments are published (e.g. included on a trust website or in documents that are available to the public).