Youth survey to be tweaked

POSTED: 06/17/11 2:16 PM

St. Maarten – A research team from Emory University have interviewed 40 students between 15 and 19 about their sexual and reproductive health, drug and alcohol use and gang behavior. They expect to survey 10 more today to round out a sample group of 50 for a Knowledge, Attitudes, Perception and Behavior Study (KAPB) that is being conducted by the St. Maarten AIDS Foundation and the Ministry of Public Health Social Development.

The effort undertaken this week is the pilot phase of the study and allowed the team from Emory University to get an impression of the logistics that will be involved and got feedback on the questionnaire from the target group. The participants this week were from secondary schools, the Get off the Block, Get on the Bus, Get Busy project and the Youth Development Program. They’ve mostly reported that taking the survey “was not that bad” however they’ve suggested that some of the questions be tweaked. A very specific suggestion was amending the measurement units.

“We had experiences where students didn’t know their height in centimeters, but they could tell us how many feet and inches. So we’ll have to look at that when we adjust the questionnaire,” survey team member Jennifer Brown said.

Participants took roughly 30 to 50 minutes to do the survey on laptop computers. Each school was asked to give an hour per student. There is no calculation of how long a person should take to the survey because of a number of factors.

“Each person can do this in their own time. While they read the questions on a screen, they are also listening to it and if they read and answer before the recording is finished they skip ahead,” Brown said.

“Also there are questions that some people will answer quickly because they are not doing certain things. For example some skipped over questions on drug use, because that’s not something they do,” Eva de Weever, the Epidemiologist at the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor said.

Some ten laptops were used in the pilot phase. This number will increase when the actual survey is done with the general population of 15 to 19 year olds in August. At that stage it will be critical that parents give their permission for minors (15 to 17) to give permission.

“Without this data we cannot move forward on forming our policies,” Head of Policy, Epidemiology and Prevention Maria Henry said.

The survey that is being administered now is quantitative – focused on just numbers. The qualitative study – that looks at reasons for behavior – will be done at a later stage in two focus groups. Information from this survey will also help the AIDS Foundation to create a Boy’s Program.


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