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Guide to Statistics and Methods
Reporting Guidelines
April 7, 2021

AAPOR Reporting Guidelines for Survey Studies

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison
  • 2Department of Biostatistics, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 3Statistical Editor, JAMA Surgery
  • 4Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
JAMA Surg. 2021;156(8):785-786. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2021.0543

Although survey studies allow researchers to gather unique information not readily available from other data sources on disease epidemiology, human behaviors and beliefs, and knowledge about health care topics from a specific population, they may be fraught with bias if not well designed and executed. The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) Survey Disclosure Checklist (2009) and Code of Professional Ethics and Practices (2015) can guide researchers in their efforts.1,2 The standards were first proposed in 1948 and arose in direct response to the presidential election where Harry Truman defeated Thomas Dewey.3 Truman’s victory surprised the US because Gallup and other polls predicted a Dewey win. This divergence forced pollsters and statisticians to recognize flaws in their quota sampling methods, which resulted in a nonrepresentative sample and misprediction of the 33rd president of the United States. The confusion over the election prompted leaders to propose standards for survey research. Despite the long-standing nature of these guidelines, recent data show survey reporting is often subpar.4 Compliance with disclosure requirements is often lacking, and articles in some specialties only report 75% of the required methodologic elements on average.4

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