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Online Surveys: Loyal Soldiers In Louisiana Tobacco Control Program's War On Smoking
Controlling tobacco use is perhaps one of the more noble battles that can be fought. And like most noble battles, one cannot fight it alone and hope to be victorious.
Few are more acutely aware of the need for strength in numbers in the battle against tobacco use than Brandi Bourgeois, MPH, Public Health Epidemiologist, Louisiana Tobacco Control Program.
Bourgeois' work involves working with an expansive group of partners who contribute time and leadership to everything from community meetings, presentations, tobacco free events and webinars. Each of these tasks are based on anti-smoking initiatives, or battle plans, developed by Bourgeois and her organization.
Oftentimes, the results of any war are best illustrated through the detailed reports sent by those fighting its battles on the frontlines. But until just three years ago, Bourgeois found herself forced to fight the war against tobacco without access to critical frontline data from the community level. It was a dangerous situation for any general.
Basing Initiatives On Correlation Rather Than Observation
"We break our state of Louisiana into nine regions," states Bourgeois. "If tobacco use was shown to increase or decrease in any of the regions, we made the determination that our programs or community efforts were working or not working."
Unfortunately, relying on correlation meant the war against tobacco use in Louisiana was being fought without a clear idea of the battle lines involved.
For instance, if tobacco use in a community is increasing, is it because partners are not living up to their commitments, or because the initiatives provided by the program fell on deaf ears? If tobacco use in a community is decreasing, what successes can be leveraged when developing the next initiative?
"What Bourgeois and the Louisiana Tobacco Control Program experienced was a scenario that becomes more common as a program deploys members further away from its central hub," states Anil Gupta of online survey provider Zoomerang. "As program partners become more and more spread out, it can be difficult to tie success or failure back to an initiative developed at center."
Survey Data Arrives To Help To Win Today's Battles
In 2007, Bourgeois deployed online surveys from Zoomerang as her program's latest weapon in the battle against tobacco use in Louisiana. Among the first surveys distributed were short event questionnaires asking partners to evaluate the effectiveness of the community meetings, tobacco free events, presentations, or webinars they hosted. The results were immediate and astounding.
"Quite simply, the results were through the roof," continues Bourgeois. "Within two days of deploying our surveys, I was able to tell exactly what parts of our initiatives were working in the field - and which weren't - and update our plans accordingly."
With the success of event surveys, Bourgeois took online survey initiatives one step further by developing monthly community partner self-evaluations. At the top of each month, partners are provided the exact list of survey questions that will be used at the end of the month to account for everything they have accomplished during the reporting period.
In distributing these surveys, Bourgeois and her team can tie results in specific communities back to the accomplishments of individual partners. By sending questions in advance, she can effectively communicate her program's goals directly to the frontlines, ensuring there is never a question among her ranks regarding what must be accomplished.
New Battle Plans Built With Better Data
Three years after first deploying online surveys from Zoomerang, Bourgeois and the Louisiana Tobacco Control Program distribute three to five surveys each month to its list of partners. And with each survey distributed, completed and returned, data is provided that illustrates what is needed to win the war against tobacco us in clearer and clearer terms.
"Zoomerang allows me to keep a running tally of all major anti-smoking initiative efforts and their effectiveness," concludes Bourgeois. "Without online surveys from Zoomerang, there is just no way I could gather any of this data. And honestly, without online surveys from Zoomerang, there's no way this data could even exist."
For a complete archive of online survey case studies, visit the Zoomerang Online Survey Success area in our Resource Center.
1 in 9 people who die from smoking don’t smoke.