How I Use It: Survey Monkey

How I Use It: Survey Monkey

Occupational Medicine 2012;62:477 doi:10.1093/occmed/kqs075

© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:

How I Use It: Survey Monkey

What is Survey Monkey?

Survey Monkey is an internet programme and hosting site that enables a person to develop a survey for use over the internet. Other sites include HostedSurvey, CreateSurvey, SurveyMethods and LimeSurvey. Such programmes are commonly used for market research purposes but can be used for surveys in a number of areas including health research.


Different pricing structures exist for each product. Survey Monkey can be used for free on a Basic plan but this has limited functionality. It provides access to 15 available question types and over 20 basic survey templates. You can create unlimited surveys but each survey is limited to 10 questions and 100 respondents.

Three paid subscription services are also available: SELECT, GOLD and PLATINUM. Prices are country specific and in Canada range from $228 to $828 annu- ally. GOLD is the most popular plan providing unlimited questions, unlimited responses, custom survey design, skip-logic and other advanced features (random assign- ment for A/B testing, question and answer piping, ques- tion randomisation), text analysis for open responses and integration with SPSS.

A PLATINUM plan delivers ‘complete brand control’ with separate survey URLs and control of how the survey looks including adding a logo and brand colours.


I used Survey Monkey after initiating the Society of Occupational Medicine eNewsletter to seek information from the membership on what to include as topics and then again after a year for feedback about the eNewslet- ter to fine tune the service.

SurveyMonkey can be used for health research with appropriate ethical approval. An introductory section allows explanation of the purpose of the survey and con- sent can be obtained at this stage. The questionnaire can be set up with a variety of responses including yes/no responses, selecting one or more from a list and drop down menu responses. The designer can draft a survey questionnaire and save the draft for further editing. Logic options can be included so that a No answer moves the respondent to the next required question. Similarly a No response to the consent request in the introductory sec- tion could move the questionnaire to the end page where a thank you message and exit button can be placed. A

Yes response to the consent would lead to the first of the survey sections/questions.

Once the questionnaire is in place and working ac- cording to the logic required it can be used. A URL can be copied and pasted into an email to a survey popula- tion or the URL can be placed in a specific web page that the survey population is directed to.

Survey Monkey provides a survey completion pro- gress bar so that the total number of survey question- naires completed can be easily read. Above the Basic plan a printable pdf version can be made to allow for postal questionnaire use if internet access is not available to all the survey population. Responses can be inputted for each returned questionnaire adding to the responses received via the internet.

The website provides tutorials and information sheets for those starting to use the service and there is also cus- tomer support with email support for paid plans. The service is compliant with US government accessibility standards for respondents with disabilities.

What are the risks?

It is possible to design a survey with the wrong logic op- tions. I prefer to start with a paper version and detail all the options following responses and then transfer that over to Survey Monkey. I then trial the survey question- naire to ensure that the correct logic and questionnaire response types are in place.

Response rates may be low if the survey has not been marketed appropriately to the study population. Email requests may not be opened and alternative methods such as posters, newsletter articles and even letters to individuals may be required to improve response rates. If the questionnaire is anonymous there is no way of identifying the individuals who respond and a mailing reminding people to participate would have to be sent to all of the survey population. If personal information (name, address) is included a mailing to only the non- responders can be sent. A statement to indicate the limited use of personal information and the fact that such identifying information will not be used when the data is exported for analysis can reassure potential participants.

In an increasingly digital online world the use of in- ternet surveys for medical and market research will in- crease. Tools like Survey Monkey offer occupational health practitioners an exciting opportunity to carry out their own surveys and research.

Eugene Waclawski e-mail:

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