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Assess Available Methods

The following chart lists some common methods for data collection, click on the method for a more in depth discussion regarding that topic.

Data collection method

Description and Uses


Strengths and Limitations

Surveys or questionnaires

Develop a specific set of questions for a defined population. Collect information about the characteristics, attitudes, or behaviors of a group of individuals. Useful tool for program evaluation or to assess the current status and needs of a specific group.

Survey to characterize the capacity of hospitals to effectively respond to mass casualty incidents.

You have control over both the survey content and who is surveyed. However, some information cannot be reliably obtained via survey. Also, you must make sure that those who respond represent your population.

Existing databases

There are national, state, and local data that have been collected by government agencies and other organizations and are available for public use.  Each data source is different in terms of the data elements collected and how reliable or accurate the data are.

Calculate the pediatric injury rates for your state compared to national estimates by age and sex.

This relatively inexpensive approach provides a wealth of information. However, there can be significant lag time from when data are collected to when they are available. Also, you must be aware of the scope and limitations of the data.

Record review

Summarize key data from already existing records. Useful when the data you need is already collected but is not consistently formatted with defined variables.

Describe the characteristics and final outcome of those treated for inflicted injury in the emergency department.

Allows you to verify that the information collected was documented in the chart or other original format. Not all data sources are complete, so you may have missing data for several variables.

Prospective data collection

Create a data collection form to answer your question or objective.  The form is completed as each individual to include in your sample is identified.

Create a data collection tool for EMS providers to collect information related to medications given on each run.

You have complete control over the data collection tool and variable definitions. However, this method is expensive and time consuming. Also, you must be careful not to place a heavy burden on care providers.


Next StepPlan Data Collection and Follow-up Procedures >>





rev. 04-Aug-2022




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