Discipline of Occupational and Environmental Health
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Developing your research instruments

As you work with your supervisor, you will need to develop the necessary instruments to collect your data. This may be in the form of questionnaires, data capture forms, standardised clinical assessment instruments, standardised environmental assessment instruments or standardised protocols. Remember that the best research instruments are those that have been field tested. So check the web (http://scholar.google.com/ is one place to start) to find out whether the instruments necessary for your project have been used in research previously. If you’re doing respiratory health research, here are some questionnaires that you could use:

The European Community Respiratory Health Study

The National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Questionnaire

The International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood Questionnaire


There are several others for ergonomics, work stress etc. Do not attempt to develop your own from scratch without checking whether there have been others previously. If you do develop your own, then you will need to validate the instrument in a pilot first. If you use a validated one, then you may need to modify this to suit your population. Discuss with your supervisor.


All questionnaires must be first done in English, then translated by a linguist into the language of the participants – this may mean translating into 2-3 languages. Once translated, another linguist must back-translate the translated version back into English. You then need to compare to make sure that the translated version is asking the same questions as the original English version.


Similarly, as you develop your protocol, you need to provide the detail for your other health assessments, such as lung function testing, neurological assessments, ergonomic assessments, audiometry etc. For all of these tests, you must provide references of internationally acceptable methods for performing these tests.


You will have to provide similar detail for your exposure assessment as well. You will need to refer to acceptable methods of sampling, either NIOSH validated methods or discuss with your supervisor and an occupational hygienist for references related to method validation.


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