Methods Core Seminars

Upcoming seminars

Title: An Introduction to Survey Scale Development and Cognitive Interviewing

Tor Neilands, PhD;

Kim Koester, MA;

Troy Wood, MA

Date&time: Tuesday May 3, 2016; 2 – 4

Mission Hall,  Room 3700
550 16th Street (at 4th street), 3rd floor
San Francisco, CA 94158

Abstract:  Despite the increasing availability of novel biomarkers in HIV prevention research, survey questions remain a crucial component of the HIV prevention research enterprise. Writing any survey question is easy, but writing excellent survey questions can be surprisingly challenging. In this two-part, two-hour presentation, Tor Neilands, Kim Koester, and Troy Wood will cover several steps in survey scale development, which, if followed, can improve a researcher’s chances of emerging with a valid, reliable, and useful scale at the end of the scale development process. In the first hour, Tor Neilands will present an overview of the various steps frequently used in survey development projects, including defining what is to be measured, the use of focus group and qualitative interview data coupled with literature sources to form a backbone for item development, principles of sound item construction, and procedures for evaluating the validity and reliability of newly-developed survey items. In the second hour, Kim Koester and Troy Wood will describe one of the most critical steps in the survey development process, cognitive interviewing, as applied to a recently-developed novel measurement instrument designed to measure engagement in HIV care.


Dr. Tor Neilands obtained his PhD in Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin where he completed a minor in quantitative methods and psychometrics. Dr. Neilands has been involved in developing new scales since the 1990s and has participated in over a dozen manuscripts as the lead scale development expert since coming to the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies (CAPS) in 2001. His areas of interest include statistical analysis of social and behavioral science data, including the use of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis methods to assess the construct validity and internal reliability of survey instruments. Dr. Neilands has directed the Methods Core at CAPS since 2003.

Kimberly A Koester is trained as a cultural anthropologist and serves as the Director of Qualitative Research in the AIDS Policy Research Center at the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University California, San Francisco. Over the last 10 years, a significant portion of her research has been conducted in the context of HIV care settings examining the delivery of health services to people living with HIV. She is particularly interested in and has extensive experience working with gay and bi-sexual men. As of 2012 she has focused her studies on the social and sexual consequences of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Troy Wood currently works as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Index Project, a mixed-methods study to develop and validate a multidimensional index of engagement in HIV care through an iterative process of obtaining input from patients, providers, and research experts. Previously, Troy worked on the Duo Project, a longitudinal gay male couples study investigating how relationship dynamics either help or hinder HIV treatment adherence. During his time at CAPS, Troy has been responsible for recruiting, screening and enrolling participants, conducting in-depth quantitative and qualitative interviews, completing cognitive interviews and performing blood specimens as a certified phlebotomist.

Prior to coming to CAPS in 2009, Troy volunteered for several years as a certified HIV counselor with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. This experience strengthened his commitment to doing community-based work to address the health disparities and improve the well-being of sexual minorities.

Troy received his MA in Counseling Psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley in 2015. Before moving to San Francisco in 2005, he received his BA in Anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Materials from past seminars



Last modified: April 29, 2016