Planning a CAHPS Survey Project

Because CAHPS projects can vary in many regards, this section provides general guidance on project planning and design issues by reviewing the steps involved in getting your project off the ground, from the formation of a project team to the planning of an evaluation. It also offers some planning tools such as question lists and downloadable worksheets to help you customize the advice to your specific needs and circumstances and document the decisions you make.

  • Step 1: Form a Project Team.  The first task is to create the team that will design and implement this project.  Learn more about the composition of this team and the responsibilities of its members.
  • Step 2:  Form an Advisory Group.  As the project team forms and begins its work, you may want to consider establishing an external project advisory group.  Learn more about how an advisory group can help your project.
  • Step 3:  Define Your Goals. One of the most important tasks for the project team, and possibly the advisory group as well, is to define the goals of the CAHPS project.  Learn more about setting the kinds of goals that are appropriate for this type of project.
  • Step 4: Plan a Communications Strategy. In a CAHPS survey project, decisions about reporting affect many aspects of data collection and analysis (e.g., whether to add supplemental questions to the core items or to analyze responses from children and adults separately). Consequently, it is important to determine what you want to do with the results before you try to make other decisions.  Learn more about preparing an effective communications strategy.
  • Step 5: Set the Stage for Conducting the Survey. How you implement a CAHPS survey will depend on a variety of initial decisions that affect sampling, data collection, and analysis. Learn more about these decisions you have to make before fielding the survey and ways to manage your assumptions.
  • Step 6:  Develop an Evaluation Plan. Finally, the last step is to decide how you will evaluate the survey project. This is an important step in the planning process for two reasons: because you may need to collect some information from your audience before fielding the survey and because you need to anticipate the costs of evaluation when developing a budget.  Learn more about planning an evaluation.
Page last reviewed August 2017
Page originally created October 2011
Internet Citation: Planning a CAHPS Survey Project. Content last reviewed August 2017. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/cahps/surveys-guidance/helpful-resources/planning/index.html