THE WASHINGTON INSTITUTE manages a ten-station Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) laboratory, which enables our researchers to collect valuable survey data - quickly, accurately, and inexpensively. The Washington Institute's CATI system can be used to obtain health- and mental health-related data and can also be used for social science research.

CATI Operator

A CATI system integrates a questionnaire, databases, and a network of linked computers to allow interviewers to obtain information via the telephone. Each survey is administered by a trained research interviewer and each is monitored for quality assurance, all while ensuring compliance with strict research protocols. The survey instrument, with its unique questions, response categories, and conditional branching, is programmed into the CATI system and a formatted copy of the questionnaire is directed to the interviewers' computer terminal.

A 'contact' database contains the survey sample participants' phone number and pertinent information. If the protocol requires random digit dialing, the contact database facilitates this process. Every call made by interviewers is tracked and the disposition of that call is recorded. (Potential dispositions include a successful completion of the survey; the survey respondent not at home; incorrect or changed telephone number; respondent requires translation services; the respondent declined to participate in the survey, etc.) If the survey is successfully administered, the responses are automatically loaded into a response dataset and are immediately available for analysis using any statistical package. If the potential respondent is not available, the software facilitates scheduling a time to call back and the record is stored in the system until that scheduled time.

The Washington Institute's CATI laboratory allows up to ten interviewers working on a survey; it can also manage up to ten different survey projects simultaneously. The Institute's professional staff includes established researchers with broad expertise in advanced survey methodology, combined with extensive experience in project management. The CATI software summarizes interviewer productivity to increase efficiency and also monitors survey sample quota requirements. The software then provides immediate reports on the progress of the survey, and on each interviewer's number of completed surveys and refusals.

Data obtained through the CATI system can be presented in a variety of formats. Data reports describe the structure of the dataset and provide simple frequencies by critical variables. If more extensive analyses are required, technical reports describe goals and objectives, outline research protocols, examine data relationships, provide in-depth analyses addressing correlations, and summarize findings. "Informed Consumer" reports present the data in a visual format and facilitate interpretation by non-technical audiences.

Finally, should the information require additional consideration, research reports similar to those published in peer-reviewed journals are developed.

For further information on the Washington Institute's resources, contact Dr. Dennis McBride at 253/756-2335 or at