Conducting Survey Research With Incarcerated Women in a County Jail


Although there are unique challenges to conducting survey research among incarcerated populations, collecting information from participants in jail is important for advancing our understanding of the lives of people in jail and how their situations can be improved. Survey research is a relatively quick and inexpensive way to collect information from incarcerated participants. This case study describes the experience of a research team that conducted self-administered surveys with 202 women experiencing incarceration in a county jail to assess their contraceptive needs and preferences. Keys for successful research include reviewing the literature to inform survey design, establishing relationships with jail staff, taking special care to design a study of a vulnerable population, understanding what can and cannot be brought into a jail, and preparing for unforeseen challenges that disrupt data collection.

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