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A builder would use a grouping tool or grouping functionality when setting up a project where participants need to complete multiple surveys in one sitting.

Training and instruction in how to enable and configure survey groupings is covered in our Survey training. The material below is intended to provide supplemental guidance to training.

(info) Need help: We expect most builders will need help setting up survey groupings and applying the material covered in our training to the context of their study. Sign up for drop-in for help.



Grouping Surveys Topics



Intended Audience & Prerequisites

Intended Audience

  • Survey project builders

Prerequisite Knowledge & Experience

  • Basics & Survey trainings.

  • Working knowledge of the Online Designer, Survey Settings, and optional survey tools

Grouping Tools

There are 2 different tools you can use to connect or link one or more surveys together to effect a grouping of surveys. Builders who need to group surveys together should plan on investing time into learning how each tool operates. 

Tool 1: Auto-continue to the next survey? 

This is an optional Survey Setting. You enable it at the individual form/survey level so that when a participant submits the survey they are automatically continued to the survey directly after it. Additionally, you can add logic to apply a condition to the auto-continuing behavior. 

Conceptually, it's important to understand this tool can do one thing - when a participant completes a survey, stop or start the next survey.

When the Auto-continue to the next survey? is enabled, there is a visual indicator in the Online Designer (see image 1-T), and for longitudinal projects, there is also an indicator on the Designate Instruments for My Events page .

Tool 2: Survey Queue

This is an optional/advanced tool you can configure to group together a list of surveys for the participant to complete and the queue tracks the participant's progress. You can add logic to the Queue to create conditions for determining which surveys are activated in the Queue, skipping a survey for some participants, and/or directing different participants to different surveys.

You can configure the behavior of the Queue as follows:

  • Present the participant with a list of links to all of the surveys activated in the Queue, and the participant completes all surveys in the list at their own pace. 
  • Guide the participant through one or more of the surveys activated in Queue via presenting the participant one survey link at a time, in successive order. In effect this gives the participant a break between surveys and there is an also opportunity to present messaging to the participant.
  • Auto-start one or more surveys activated in the Queue to effect auto-continuing a participant from a completed survey to a survey they need to complete.

When the Survey Queue is enabled, there is a visual indicator in the Online Designer (see image 1).

Image 1-T: Online Designer view with visual indicators for Survey Queue and Auto-Continue to next survey.

Why are There 2 Tools

It can be confusing when a piece of software has more than one tool that seems to accomplish some of the same behaviors. In this case, both the Queue and the Survey Setting, Auto-continue to the next survey? can automate continuing a participant from one survey to the next.

For insight, we need to look at the evolution of REDCap as a piece of software.

The Queue was introduced in REDCap version 5.10.0, which was released in March, 2014. It's an optional tool. A builder needs to activate individual surveys in the Queue to set up a survey grouping and can configure one or more surveys in the grouping to auto-start.

Auto-continue to the next survey? was added to REDCap a year later, introduced in REDCap version 6.7.0, which was released in June, 2015. It's a Survey Setting, meaning it's an attribute or characteristic of an individual survey.  It's a simpler tool to use, if a builder needs to link several individual surveys together one after another and all of the participants need to complete all the surveys in the group.



Deciding Which Tool to Use

As a builder, how do you decide which tool is right for your project? In short, it depends on your project and the requirements for completing the surveys that you need to group together. To this end, we created a list, outlined below, of some of the key questions that any builder can ask themselves, and/or their team members, to help define their project's requirements.

Prompts for Investigating Grouping Requirements

  • Do all of your participants complete all of your surveys in the survey grouping?
    • For a longitudinal project, is this true every time the participants are invited to complete all of the surveys in the grouping?
  • For a longitudinal project are the same surveys grouped together at every event?
  • Do you have different types of participants, such as parent and child, or student and mentee, or provider and patient, that complete different surveys at the same time points?
  • Does your survey grouping start with a consent survey and participants need to agree to participate to complete the next survey(s).
    • How do you plan to provide a copy of the submitted consent form to the participant?
  • In your survey grouping, do you have different versions of a survey that you need to route participants to depending on a trait or characteristic of the participant, such as age, gender, education, employment, etc.?
  • In your survey grouping, do you need to skip or include a survey to follow up on information a participant reported, such as drug and alcohol use, current medications, past hospitalizations, pregnancies, etc.? 

Examples of Survey Grouping Requirements


Example 1-R

Image 1-R: Surveys and forms assigned to events

Screening & Enrollment

Survey Grouping: Screening Information Sheet Contact Info 

  • All participants complete the Screening survey.
    • At survey termination, communicate to participants their eligibility status.
  • Only eligible participants continue to the Information Sheet survey.
    • At survey termination:
      • Welcome consented participants and thank participants who declined for their time.
      • Allow participants to download a copy of the Information sheet they submitted.
  • Only participants who consent continue on to the Contact Info survey.

Month 1, Month 2, Month 3

Survey Grouping: Problem Solving Self Management Scale Unscheduled Visit

  • All participants complete both Problem Solving and Self Management Scale surveys.
  • Only participants who reported seeking medical care continue on to the Unscheduled Visit Survey.

Example 2-R

Image 2-R: Surveys and forms assigned to events



Enrollment

Survey Grouping: Information Sheet Study Survey PHQ 9  Pubertal Development PedsQL

  • All participants complete the Information Sheet survey.
    • At survey termination
      • Welcome consented participants and thank participants who declined for their time.
      • Allow participants to download a copy of the Information sheet they submitted.
  • Only participants who consent complete the Study Survey.
  • All participants who complete the Study Survey continue on to the PHQ 9 survey.
  • Participants reporting on a child between ages 10 and 14 continue on to the Pubertal Development Scale survey, and other participants skip this survey.
  • All participants continue on to the PedsQL survey targeted to the age of the child they are reporting on.

Month 1, Month 6

Survey Grouping: PHQ 9 PedsQL

  • All participants complete a PHQ 9 survey based on the age of the child they are reporting on.
  • Participants continue on to one of the PedsQL surveys depending on the age of the child they are reporting on at the time they are completing the survey.

Month 12

Survey Grouping: PHQ 9  Pubertal Development PedsQL

  • All participants complete the PHQ 9 survey.
  • Participants reporting on a child between ages 10 and 14 continue on to the Pubertal Development Scale survey, and other participants skip this survey.
  • All participants continue on to the PedsQL survey targeted to the age of the child they are reporting on.

Example 3-R

Image 3-R: Surveys and forms assigned to events

All Events

Survey Grouping: Promis Bank v1.0 - Depression Promis Bank v1.0 -Fatigue Promis Bank v1.0 -Physical Function

  • All participants complete Promis Bank v1.0 - Depression survey
  • All participants continue on to the Promis Bank v1.0 - Fatigue survey.
  • All participants continue on to the Promis Bank v1.0 - Physical Function survey.


Tool Based Considerations

In deciding which tool to use, it's also important for builders to take into account some of the nuances of each tool, which we've listed below.

  • Survey termination behaviors are impacted in the following ways if Auto-continue to next survey is enabled or the next survey is configured to auto-start via the Queue.
    • A participant won't see a survey's Completion Text at survey termination
    • If you've enabled the setting, Allow participants to download a PDF of their responses at end of survey, a participant won't be presented with the button to download the PDF
    • If you've enabled the setting, Send confirmation email, and you haven't already captured, in a data entry form or survey, an email address for the participant that you've designated for communications, the participant won't be prompted to enter their email address to get the confirmation message.
  • The Queue prompts a participant to complete any incomplete surveys that they are eligible to take and that are activated in the Queue.
  • If the Queue and Auto-continue to the next survey are configured for the same survey, and one tool is set up to continue the participant to the survey and the other tool is set up to skip the survey for the participant, the participant will be prompted to take the survey.
  • The conditional logic component for Auto-continue to the next survey tool cannot be configured to skip and continue the participant to next survey they are eligible to take.

Using Both Tools in the Same Project

Ideally, if a builder can configure a single tool to meet all of their surveys' grouping requirements, we recommend it to help reduce complexity of the project build, as well as reduce the opportunities for creating competing grouping logic that would cause unexpected and undesirable behavior. However, in many projects the survey groupings are complex and/or unique to the when the grouping is distributed, and in these situations, it's not unusual for a project builder to configure both tools. 

The builder is responsible for communicating how they have used one or both of the grouping tool to other persons helping set up and manage the project. To that end we highly recommend the builder document the project set up, and address in detail, how they have set up surveys have be distributed and collect response from their participants.



Use Cases & Examples

The guidance we're providing here is based on both our experience helping 1000's of survey projects, and our expertise as application support specialists for the REDCap software. 

Use Cases for the Queue

e-Consent First

This use case applies when the study team has to first get the participant's consent before continuing the participant to any other surveys the study plans to distribute. 

In the above example, 1-R, the Information Sheet is used to obtain consent, which is required for a person to participate in the study and to complete any of the surveys, starting with the Contact Info survey.

  • Requirement
    • Once participants have completed the Information Sheet, route those who consented to the Contact Info survey. 
  • Queue Set Up
    • Activate the Contact Info survey in the Queue, and add logic that evaluates the participant's consent status e.g. [consent] = '1'.

Additionally, if the builder does not configure the Queue to auto-start the Contact Info survey, and if the builder has enabled the Survey Setting that allows participants to download a PDF of their responses at end of survey for the Information Sheet, once the participant has submitted the Information Sheet, they will be presented with a button to download a copy of their completed consent form. Providing participants with a copy of their signed consent form is required by the IRB. 

Survey Versions

This use case applies when a participant will be prompted to take a specific version of the same survey based on an attribute or characteristic of the participant, such as the participant's age or diagnosis.

In the above example, 2-R, at all time points there are four different versions of the PedsQL, and which specific PedsQL the participant will be prompted to complete depends on the age of the child the participant is reporting on.

  • Requirement
    • Once participants have completed the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 survey or Pubertal Development Scale survey, route participants to the appropriate PedsQL survey.
  • Queue Set Up
    • Activate all four PedsQL surveys in the Queue, and add logic to each version that evaluates the child's age, e.g. [child_age] >=2  and [child_age] <= 4, to prompt the participant to complete the appropriate age based version of the PedsQL

Survey Skipping

This use case applies when one or more surveys in a group of surveys needs will be skipped for some of the participants based on 1) attribute or characteristic of the participant, such as age, OR 2) information the participant reported, such as a hospitalization or pregnancy, OR 3) an attribute of person's participation in the study, such as the participant's cohort or randomized assignment.

In the example above, 2-R, the Pubertal Development Scale survey is only completed by participants reporting on a child age 10 to 14.

  • Requirement
    • Once participants have completed the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 survey, skip the Pubertal Development Scale for participants reporting on children younger than 10 or older than 14 once they've completed the 
  • Queue Set Up
    • Activate the Pubertal Development Scale survey in the Queue, and add logic that evaluates the child's age, e.g. [child_age] >=10  and [child_age] <= 14, so only participants reporting on child age 10 to 14 are prompted to complete the survey. All other participants are routed to one of the age based  PedsQL surveys.

Use Case for Auto Continue (WITHOUT conditional logic)

All Participants Complete All Surveys

This use case applies if the requirements for a survey grouping dictate that all participants complete all surveys in the grouping.

In the example above, 3-R, at every event, all three PROMIS Bank surveys are completed by all of the participants in the study.

  • Requirement:
    • Once participants have completed the Promis Bank v1.0 - Depression survey, route them to the Promis Bank v1.0 - Fatigue survey.
    • Once participants have completed Promis Bank v1.0 - Fatigue survey, route them to the Promis Bank v1.0 - Physical Function survey.
  • Auto-Continue Setup
    • Enable the Auto-continue to the next survey? setting in the individual Survey Settings for the Promis Bank v1.0 - Depression and Promis Bank v1.0 - Fatigue surveys.

Use Cases for Auto Continue (WITH conditional logic)

Self-Screening Survey

This use case applies when a study is collecting self reported inclusion and exclusion data directly from potential persons to determine if they are eligible to participate in their study.

In the example above, 1-R, only screened in participants can be offered the consent form.

  • Requirement:
    • Once participants have completed the Screening survey, route participants who met inclusion criteria to the Information Sheet.
  • Auto-Continue Setup
    • Enable the Auto-continue to the next survey? setting in the individual Survey Settings for the Screening survey and add conditional logic to evaluate the participant's response, e.g., [sreen_age] = '1' and [screen_dx] = '1', so that only participants who responded in such a way that they met inclusion circle are prompted to complete the Information Sheet.

Follow-Up Survey

This use case applies when study a collects additional information from a participant to gather more information on an event, activity or interest the participant self-reported.

In the example above, 1-R, only participants who report seeking unplanned medical care need to completed the

  • Requirement:
    • Once participants completed the Self Management survey, route participants who sought unplanned medical care to the Unscheduled Visit survey.
  • Auto-Continue Setup
    • Enable the Auto-continue to the next survey? setting in the individual Survey Settings for the Self Management survey and add conditional logic to evaluate the participant's response, e.g., [med_survey] = '1'  so that only participants who reported seeking unplanned medical care are prompted to complete the Unscheduled Visit survey.

Examples

We're going to use the above example, 1-R, to demonstrate configuring both tools, as follows:

  • Configure the Queue for the survey grouping: Screening Information Sheet Contact Info
  • Configure the Auto-Continue to the next survey for the survey grouping: Problem Solving Self Management Scale Unscheduled Visit

Configurations


Survey Queue
for Screening Information Sheet Contact Info at Screening & Enrollment

Image 1-Q: Survey Queue configuration modal

Image 2-Q: Inclusion fields on Screening survey/form


  • Fields on the Screening survey for determining if the participant meets the inclusion criteria.
  • Referenced in the logic for activating the Information Sheet in the Queue.

Image 3-Q: Consent field on Information Sheet survey/form

  • Field on the Information Sheet for obtaining the participant's consent.
  • Referenced in the logic for activating the Contact Info survey in the Queue.

Auto Continue to the next survey? for Problem Solving Self Management Scale Unscheduled Visit at Month 1, Month 2 & Month 3

Image 1-AC: Auto-continue to next survey enabled for Problem Solving survey via its Survey Settings

  • Auto-continue to the next survey? enabled WITHOUT conditional logic.
  • Applies at all three time points the completed the the Problem Solving survey.

Image 2-AC: Auto-continue with logic to next survey enabled for Self Management Scale survey via its Survey Settings

Image 3-AC: Medical care field on the Self Management Scale survey/form

  • Field on the Self Management Scale survey for participant to report if the sought medical care.
  • Referenced in the conditional logic added to Auto-continue to the next survey? setting to automated continuing the participant to the Unscheduled Visit survey.








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