Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
31 Jul 2009
 | 31 Jul 2009

The use of questionnaires for acquiring information on public perception of natural hazards and risk mitigation – a review of current knowledge and practice

D. K. Bird

Abstract. Questionnaires are popular and fundamental tools for acquiring information on public knowledge and perception of natural hazards. Questionnaires can provide valuable information to emergency management agencies for developing risk management procedures. Although many natural hazards researchers describe results generated from questionnaires, few explain the techniques used for their development and implementation. Methodological detail should include, as a minimum, response format (open/closed questions), mode of delivery, sampling technique, response rate and access to the questionnaire to allow reproduction of or comparison with similar studies. This article reviews current knowledge and practice for developing and implementing questionnaires. Key features include questionnaire design, delivery mode, sampling techniques and data analysis. In order to illustrate these aspects, a case study examines methods chosen for the development and implementation of questionnaires used to obtain information on knowledge and perception of volcanic hazards in a tourist region in southern Iceland. Face-to-face interviews highlighted certain issues with respect to question structure and sequence. Recommendations are made to overcome these problems before the questionnaires are applied in future research projects. In conclusion, basic steps that should be disclosed in the literature are provided as a checklist to ensure that reliable, replicable and valid results are produced from questionnaire based hazard knowledge and risk perception research.