How to create an in-study participant screening question

You can add screening questions at the beginning of your study to help ensure you only receive responses from participants who meet certain criteria.

Screening questions come in handy in a number of situations. For example, if you’re running a study for a real estate website and you want to include people who have purchased a home in the last 12 months. You can simply set up a screening question asking “Have you bought a home in the last 12 months?”. Any participant who selects “Yes” will be passed through to complete your study. Meanwhile, any participant who selects “No” will be rejected from the study. This allows you to increase the probability of receiving quality responses from targeted participants.

If you’re recruiting your own participants, you can add multiple screening questions to your study to help you get the responses you need. Keep in mind that the more screening questions you add, the more criteria your participants need to meet in order to take your study.

If you find yourself adding a large number of screening questions to your study, you may benefit from ordering participants through our participant recruitment service instead. We offer 2 types of participant recruitment: 

  • In-app order form: You can order participants in the Recruit tab in Treejack, OptimalSort, Chalkmark or Questions. You can set basic demographic information such as age range, country, gender, occupation status and education level. Studies using this type of recruitment can have 1 screening question to help further refine your participant responses. 
  • Custom recruitment order: You can order targeted participants by getting in touch with our customer success team. This type of recruitment order allows you to get very specific with your criteria, which basically pre-screens your participants for you. You can add 1 screening question to your study.

Screening questions and our participant recruitment service

Before adding a screening question, consider whether you intend to recruit participants via our targeted participant recruitment service. As this service allows you to recruit participants that precisely match the demographics you specify; it is often unnecessary to add an additional layer of screening in the form of a screening question. Additionally, in rare cases, using both may impact our ability to meet your desired volume of recruited participants and the criteria of your additional screening question.

You can find more information on our recruitment service and its interaction with screening questions in the section ‘Using a screening question with our participant recruitment service’.

How to set up your screening question

1. Add a screening question

On the Questionnaire tab of the study setup page press the “+ Add question” button. Type your question into the Question box then select the way you’d like your candidates to respond from the Options section. You have 2 options available:

  • Radio button: This is a button that a participant can click to ‘check’ or select, like a check box.
  • Drop-down: This will produce a drop-down menu that your participants can select one answer from.

If you’re recruiting your own participants you can add as many screening questions as you like to your study.

2. Choose which responses will accept and reject candidates

Add Options (your candidate's choice of responses) to your question by clicking the “+ Add option” button and filling in the response. Your screening questions must have at least 1 correct response available so the correct participants can participate in the study. Your screening questions also must have at least 1 incorrect response that will reject some candidates. In other words, you cannot launch a study with all correct responses or all incorrect responses.

To select the response(s) that will reject your candidates, simply check the “Reject” box for all that apply.

3. Choose how rejected candidates will be handled

Rejection Message: You can choose to provide your rejected candidates with a Rejection Message. This is the default option when you add a screening question to your study.

There is already a default message provided in the “Rejection Message” text box. If you want to, this can be edited to display the message of your choice by simply pressing the “Edit” button.

Rejection URL: Alternatively, instead of being shown the Rejection Message, rejected candidates can be redirected to a Rejection URL of your choice by filling in the “Rejection URL” box.

4. Complete the setup of your study and launch it

Once you’ve completed the rest of the set up for your study, have a quick preview to check if it’s all working correctly. If so, you can now share the link to your study to start getting those responses rolling in! Your participants will see the screening question on the welcome page of your study, pictured below.

How to check the effectiveness of your screening questions

To see if your screening questions are doing their job, simply head on over to the Results section of your study and select the Overview tab. In the Summary, look for the message “xx (xx%) of applicants have been screened out of participating in the study.” This will tell you how many candidates have been rejected from your study.

Participants that have been rejected will not show up in the results of your study, as they did not actually enter the study in the first place. This way, you can rest assured your results will be targeted and high quality.

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