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    790521

    Training: the key to quality data.

    VERMA V

    Populi. 1979; 6(1):37-41.

    Since the function of the World Fertility Survey (WFS) is to help countries collect unbiased, cross-culturally comparable data on fertility, it is imperative that comprehensive and systematic training of survey personnel be undertaken. The first step in the initiation of a survey is to hold a discussion between WFS personnel and the organization sponsoring a survey in a particular country in order to determine personnel and training needs. WFS provides training assistance for all phases of data collection from sampling to coding, but the training of field supervisors and interviewers is viewed as the most crucial factor in conducting a quality survey. Most of the data collected in these surveys is done through interviewing a national sample of women of childbearing age in reference to marriage and birth patterns, contraceptive use, desired family size, and socioeconomic factors. The questionaires are fairly structured, but given the sensitive nature of the questions and the wide variation possible in responses, it is necessary to thoroughly train interviewers and their supervisors. Only women are recruited as interviewers. In the ideal situation only one center is used for training all personnel, and training time is approximately 5 weeks for supervisors and 3 weeks for interviewers. The training consists of a series of classroom lectures and role playing by the trainees, followed by practical field experience in which teams are sent out each day to nonsample areas to conduct interviews and then in the evening the results of the interviews are analyzed by the group. This intensive and prolonged training is costly, however, given the small sample size of most of the surveys, high quality data is essential. The long training period engenders in the participants a long lasting enthusiasm and interest in the work and the final training week is generally associated with a marked increment in the acquisition of interviewing skills. This intensive training has proved invaluable in the 30 countries where these surveys have been conducted.
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