, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 1181-1184,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 15 Jun 2010

The impact of next and back buttons on time to complete and measurement reliability in computer-based surveys

Abstract

Purpose

To assess the impact of including next and back buttons on response burden and measurement reliability of computer-based surveys.

Methods

A sample of 807 participants (mean age of 53; 64% women, 83% non-Hispanic white; 81% some college or college graduates) from the YouGov Polimetrix panel was administered 56 items assessing performance of social/role activities and 56 items measuring satisfaction with social/role activities. Participants were randomly assigned to either (1) automatic advance to the next question with no opportunity to go back (auto/no back); (2) automatic advance to the next questions with an opportunity to go back (auto/back); (3) next button to go to the next question with no opportunity to go back (next/no back); or (4) next button to go to the next question with an opportunity to go back (next/back).

Results

We found no difference in missing data, internal consistency reliability, and domain scores by group. Time to complete the survey was about 50% longer when respondents were required to use a next button to go on.

Conclusions

Given the similarity in missing data, reliability and mean scale scores with or without use of the next button, we recommend automatic advancement to the next item with the option to go back to the previous item.