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Saturday, June 20, 2009

D.A.T. Research Conducts Invalid Survey on Health Care Reform

One of the things we students in DSU's doctoral program are supposed to learn is how to compose a valid survey. An automated phone survey paid for by "D.A.T. Research" interrupted my studying yesterday afternoon. It was about health care, so I stayed on the line. It didn't take a graduate school education to recognize that the survey will not produce valid results:

  1. Question 1 asks about my health insurance. I get two options: (1) employer-based insurance (2) uninsured or one Medicare/Medicaid. What about the millions of people buying their own insurance on the individual market? Oops.
  2. Question 2 asks if I'm satisfied with my current policy. So if I'm uninsured, how am I supposed to answer that? And how will the researchers distinguish between respondents who are dissatisfied with being uninsured and those who are dissatisfied with Medicare/Medicaid? Oops.
  3. Question 3 asks (and I paraphrase) if I would prefer Congress pass a plan creating a government-run health insurance program that would compete against private companies or work with private companies to lower rates, cover the uninsured, and protect our free-market health care system. The problem with the wording should be obvious: option #1 is portrayed as simply creating competition, while option #2 is portrayed as actually producing results. Oops.
The recording was nice enough to say this survey was paid for by D.A.T. Research (which has no Googlable website at all) and even gave a callback number: 888-298-6320. I called back and got their machine, where I left a message encouraging them to clean up the survey.

But unless I hear back from D.A.T. or any of you phone owners out there saying you got a different survey, if you get mail or read Tea Party press releases a month from now citing D.A.T. Research on health care reform, feel to dismiss the results as invalid.


  1. Bruce Putterman6/22/2009 4:21 PM

    I just received the same call, and had the same reaction. So I googled them, and you came up in the number one position. Thanks for exposing this obvious "push poll."

  2. Just got one too- she sounded so friendly, but it didn't hide the loaded questions...

  3. I delete an Anonymous, but still must comment on his/her/its remarkable interpretation of the above survey as biased in favor of a government-run health coverage option. I read the exact opposite bias. Anyone care to straighten us out?

  4. Numbers are presented (sometimes twisted) to a favorable light. Companies want to protect profits. Our fault too because we obsess over stock price: the reason for-profit health care is immoral.

  5. Phone ringers off, voice mail on ... Ach! Countless missed annoyances!

  6. JohnSD: profit-protection is all I'm hearing in this survey!

    Stan: Indeed, we should all perhaps take more advantage of our ability to disconnect from the annoyances foisted on us by telemarketers and others. But, in my twisted mind, these phone surveys are kind of fun. They're like little mental puzzles, challenging me to find the hidden meanings behind the wording. They're also good practice for my own research, helping me watch for potential biases in my own survey questions.


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