When should you do your follow up survey?

I am often asked how long is best to leave in between an initial and follow up survey. The quick answer is that it really depends on what you want to measure.

For example, if running a counselling course, you may want to do your initial survey a few days before and then your follow up survey a few days after the course. The length of the course doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s one week, six weeks, six months or a year, your results will describe the well-being of your group at those points in time, and the change that happens in between.

You should however keep in mind that the larger the gap you leave between surveys the more potential external influences there are on young people’s lives. For example, over a period of a year, a young person may experience changes in their family situation, move house, or their parent might lose their job – all of which can affect well-being.

These changes will be picked up by the Well-being Measure – something which is unavoidable. This makes it difficult to disentangle what changes are due to your activities and what changes are due to external influences. Because of this, you may want to create a control group for surveys over longer periods of time.

Exactly how you design your survey depends on what you want to measure. But when you are planning you should follow the guidance we provide and think through all the options. Whatever you decide on timing, you can be sure that NPC’s Well-being Measure will always give you a reliable indication of well-being.

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