The Survey and Statistical Methods Core (SSMC)

UMass Boston - Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center

Services

The Survey and Statistical Methods Core (SSMC) offers the following services:

Study Design, Protocol Development and Sampling
Question Design, Instrument Selection, and Pre-Testing
Data Collection
Data Entry and Coding
Data Analysis and Reporting
Database Design and Data Management
Process Tracking Databases
Case Identification
Medical Record Review
Focus Groups, Cognitive and Key Informant Interviews
Qualitative Coding and Analysis
Field Staff Training and Oversight

 

Study Design, Protocol Development and Sampling

SSMC staff are available to provide technical expertise in research design and sampling procedures including power analyses and sampling size determination. Core staff members can recommend the latest data collection solutions, and help identify the optimal strategy for achieving your scientific objectives.

Question Design, Instrument Selection, and Pre-Testing

SSMC staff are expert question designers and are knowledgeable about the validity and psychometric properties of currently available instruments. Staff will work with you, using structured evaluation and testing methods, to develop or choose the right instruments for your study purposes. Core staff have years of experience constructing quantitative and qualitative survey instruments that yield valid and reliable data. Using focus group discussions and cognitive interviewing techniques to ensure accuracy, clarity, and user-friendliness of questions and of response options, the Core can provide guidance in pre-testing and refining new or existing instruments.

Data Collection

The SSMC has the capability to conduct surveys by telephone, in person, by mail, and via the web. Using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing system (CATI), interviewers are able to conduct large-scale national as well as regional telephone studies. DatStat Illume or SNAP are used for web based surveys. These applications incorporate data security safeguards, ensuring compliance with HIPAA requirements. The SSMC has experience interviewing in foreign languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Haitian, Creole, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese, and provides consultation on the potential differences in interpretation of survey results attributable to differences in language and culture.

Data Entry and Coding

The SSMC offers advanced capabilities for efficient and accurate data entry with quality assurance measures that ensure a clean data set prior to analysis. SSMC coders are experienced in coding open-ended and keying close-ended questionnaire items.

Data Analysis and Reporting

SSMC staff members are available to provide sophisticated statistical analyses of survey data files. Staff can advise researchers on the appropriate approaches to analyzing their data and on correctly integrating sample designs into their analyses. Core staff use a wide array of database management and statistical analysis software and are experienced in producing reports of varied types, including, executive summaries, detailed reports, scholarly monographs, and journal articles.

Database Design and Data Management

The SSMC can design customized databases to help researchers manage a wide range of projects including clinical or community-based interventions, survey projects and research protocols that involve multiple steps. This capability is particularly critical for longitudinal projects, and for investigators whose data collection needs require the capability to interface directly with clinical information systems.

Process Tracking Databases

The SSMC builds and maintains process tracking systems designed to track subjects and their activities over time. These systems are capable of collecting data on participants who are randomized to one of several interventions, each of which requires them to interact with the system multiple times and be reminded by the system to take actions dependent on their randomization status. Key data elements associated with these activities are stored for evaluation and analysis. Process tracking database are often designed to nest within a project website that allows participant access, education, and delivery of various interventions. Most of these systems also incorporate scheduling components that provide project staff with the time and dates for the delivery of planned education or intervention modules.

Case Identification

Through review of pathology and other clinical reports, SSMC staff can identify potential subjects at Eastern Massachusetts hospitals who are eligible for IRB-approved survey and other studies. Case identification can be accomplished shortly after diagnosis, thus providing rapid case identification for studies needing access to study subjects within this time-frame.

Medical Record Review

The SSMC offers the ability to obtain demographic and clinical study data of identified study subjects via medical record review. Record review is offered as a stand-alone service or as a complement to projects involving survey methods.

Focus Groups, Cognitive and Key Informant Interviews

Core staff manage and implement all aspects of qualitative survey research, including interview guide development, discussion facilitation and moderation. SSMC staff have extensive experience working with diverse participant groups and can accommodate a wide range of qualitative research needs in community and clinical settings. SSMC qualitative staff are available to travel to off-site locations and can train interviewers for multisite and multi-lingual research projects.

Qualitative Coding and Analysis

The SSMC can provide support on coding and analysis of qualitative data obtained through focus groups, participant observation, cognitive and key informant interviews. Qualitative analysis capabilities include structural and thematic coding using NVivo software, the preparation of themes documents, and analysis. Core staff also offer consultation on the development and implementation of qualitative research projects.

Field Staff Training and Oversight

The SSMC is available to provide training and oversight of project staff involved in data collection, data entry, quality assurance, reporting, and other tasks related to the implementation of both interventional and observational research involving survey data collection.