Analyzing a Large Sample of Open-Ended Survey Questions From Cancer Survivors Through Mixed Methods and an Interdisciplinary Team


Qualitative analysis procedures for analyzing open-ended survey questions can be successfully combined with quantitative descriptive and correlative analysis to provide a rich understanding of response themes and patterns in response themes. Involving an interdisciplinary team in the coding of large volumes of narrative data allowed for a rigorous and thorough exploration of themes and nuances in the data. In this case, methods are described for the rigorous analysis of 1,514 responses to an open-ended question asking cancer survivors about their “unmet needs” related to cancer. The themes identified in the data were contextualized by examining patterns of themes over respondents’ demographic and health characteristics. This case discusses the potential value of open-ended survey questions to discover rich themes and the difficulties in handling very large volumes of qualitative data.

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