The way I see it, we make a deal with our patients. We agree to fully protect your privacy, give you a chance to share your opinions and experiences, and pay you at the rate of $100 per hour. You agree to be honest and give your time and attention to the surveys and interviews that you want to take part in. And like most things, 99% of the time, it works great. But, from time to time, a respondent to a survey will be “pulled over” for speeding. Or other forms of cheating – “straight-lining” – which means answering all the questions the same (obviously not thinking about answers). Or putting in contradictory answers, or giving non-sensical answers to open ended questions – the ones where you can type in longer answers.
How do we know when people might be speeding or cheating? Because our clients check for these answers. They can see if someone is speeding. We just had someone do a 20-minute survey in 5 minutes. I get that some people can be faster than others, but 5 mins for a 20-minute survey? That defies credibility. So, when our clients see that, they flag it. They toss out the data and won’t pay us for that response. Same when they see straight-lining, or contradictory answers.
What do we do? First, we ask for more information. How fast was the respondent? Is there an explanation? We ask the respondent also. When the response is reasonable, we plead your case! Sometimes clients listen to us and accept the answers. But sometimes they just can’t.
But this can all be avoided. Please, hold up your side of the bargain. Take your time, think about your answers. Even if you feel you can speed through, slow down! The information you provide is used by the study sponsors to make important decisions. Please take it seriously, just as you want your doctors to take you seriously.