How to collect public feedback during COVID-19

Read our top tips on how to develop a survey to collect people’s experiences of services during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as template questions you can use.
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In response to COVID-19, health and social care services have had to drastically change the support they offer the public. It is therefore important we understand how these changes are working for people. If you want to develop a survey relating to the pandemic, take a look at our top tips to help you form questions that will provide useful information. 

You should be sharing feedback to services regularly, as this is a fast moving situation. This is especially important if someone shares an experience which raises safety or safeguarding issues. 

Template survey questions

These questions have been developed in consultation with 11 local Healthwatch. Please be aware that you can adapt or add to these questions as needed, based on your local knowledge, circumstances and stakeholders. Read the advice below to find out how you can do this.

Template survey questions

Focus your questions

Survey questions that are focussed on collecting specific feedback will benefit your analysis and understanding of people’s experiences. This will also help you to share relevant information with your stakeholders. 

It is best to plan your survey by first identifying the data you need to collect and then writing your questions. You can use your local knowledge and insight to inform these questions so that they are relevant and applicable to your audience. 

Ask direct questions

Vague questions will confuse respondents and make their answers less useful. Using precise and clear language will help to make your questions easy to answer. Do not use acronyms as some people may not be familiar with them. 

Asking one question at a time helps to avoid confusion. You can check your survey for double-barreled questions by looking for words such as “and” or “or” in your questions.

Find out where your respondents are

You may want to ask which local area people live in, or the service that they're referring to. This could be particularly useful if your Healthwatch supports a large area. By doing this, you may be able to identify any differences in people’s experiences depending on where they access health and social care services.

Choose the best question format for the information you need

There are two main types to consider when choosing the format of your questions.

  1. Closed questions 
    A closed question is one which can be answered using predetermined responses e.g. yes/no, true/false
    You can also use response scales which provide direction and intensity of attitudes. Be consistent with your scales throughout the survey to avoid confusion. 
    It is useful to have a scale with a neutral option by using 3 or 5 categories to reduce the likelihood of a forced choice and can make your analysis more meaningful.
    For example:
    Three Point Scale: Agree / Neither agree or disagree / Disagree 
    Five Point Scale: Strongly agree / Agree / Neither agree or disagree / Disagree / Strongly disagree 

    These questions are quick and simple to answer and usually easy to analyse. 

  2. Open or free-text questions
    It is best practice to use open or free-text questions sparingly. 

    Although free-text responses may provide more detailed information, analysing these responses takes more time than responses from closed questions. Some respondents are less likely to answer questions that require a written response as this takes them more time too.

Logical ordering 

Each survey question should follow a logical flow. Jumping from one topic to another may confuse respondents and cause them to skip questions or abandon the survey altogether. 

Keep the survey short 

Make sure your survey takes a reasonable amount of time to complete. Limiting the number of questions you ask helps ensure that your respondents remain engaged with the survey throughout.

Test your survey 

If possible, test your survey with your target audience. This can help you to identify and correct any issues with language, responses and length. If you are unable to test it with your target group, you could ask your colleagues to test it and provide feedback. 

Template survey questions

Please be aware that you can adapt or add to these questions as needed, based on your local knowledge, circumstances and stakeholders.

Share your data with Healthwatch England 

Please share any data that you gather with Healthwatch England so your local findings can help inform the national picture.

You can share your data via email to the COVID-19 inbox, managed by the Intelligence and Analytics team.


What are people telling you about their experiences of COVID-19?

We want to know what COVID-19 advice and information people are asking you for or issues they are raising. This is so we can spot any gaps in information, identify any issues and keep Government and the NHS informed. Let us know the issues people are raising with you.

Tell us more