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Baseline surveys

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Campaigns often target large audiences, yet most campaigns will not command sufficient financial and human resources to undertake a population-wide survey. A baseline thus needs ideally to capture data from a statistically representative sample of the target population. To do this, it is common to apply tools used in development programmes, such as participatory assessments and KAP surveys, which rely on qualitative exploration with relatively small samples.

Baseline surveys such as KAP surveys can be conducted in behaviour-change campaigns to assess Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of the target audience with respect to the campaign issue. Extensively applied in public health programmes, e.g. in HIV/AIDS-related projects, KAP surveys combine qualitative information and quantitative data obtained from relatively small samples of the target population, e.g. through focus group discussions and questionnaire-based surveys.

One challenge to bear in mind when conducting surveys related to VAW is that the issue is most often an under-reported and sensitive one, and many people may therefore hesitate to talk about it. Surveys must be carefully designed to account for the sensitivity of the issue.


Examples: As part of the formative part of its monitoring and evaluation framework, a baseline survey was conducted in the Bell Bajao campaign in India to gather state-specific information on gender-based violence, domestic violence, women’s rights and related legal provisions (Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act). In addition, the baseline recorded the target audience’s media habits, and the information sources they used and preferred. Secondary data sources were also used eg. from the WHO and the National Family Health Survey in India.

Read the campaign Baseline Survey on Domestic Violence and HIV/AIDS.

The International Center for Research on Women and Instituto Promundo Men and Gender Equality Policy Project, launched in 2007 aims to enhance the body of knowledge on how policies can encourage men and boys to participate in promoting gender equality and ending violence against women.  To determine the baseline attitudes, knowledge and practices of men and women, the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES) was developed - a standardized population-based questionnaire administered by using a mobile touch pad, where respondents are asked a question verbally and then are asked to press a color on the screen to indicate their response.  This method does not require the participant to be literate and maintains the praticipant’s anonymity and confidentiality.

The men’s questionnaire is available in English and Portuguese.  The women’s questionnaire is available in English and Portuguese.



Additional guidance: The section on Baseline Assessment in the Programming Essentials Module provides detailed information on baseline data collection and further resources.



Tools and Sample Baseline Surveys:

Baseline Surveys on Social and Institutional Tolerance of Gender-based Violence in Colombia (Spanish) – These baseline survey instruments were developed under the auspices of the multi-sector programme on gender-based violence in Colombia, incorporating elements that are comparable with some of the aspects of both the WHO Multi-country Study and the International Men and Gender Equality Survey (see below).

Violence Against Women Survey Guides, Madagascar, USAID/Women’s Legal Rights Initiative, 2004 (in French) – This resource is for practitioners and researchers working on violence against women. The guides comprise six different qualitative surveys for women and men of different ages and relationship status as well as a survey pre-selection form.

International Men and Gender Equality Survey (IMAGES), International Center for Research on Women and Instituto Promundo, 2010 (in English and Portuguese) – This survey was developed to strengthen understanding of men’s behaviours and attitudes, and changes in those attitudes and behaviours. The ultimate goal of the survey is to inform, drive and monitor policy development to promote gender equality by engaging men and women in such policies.

A Guide to Developing Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Surveys, World Health Organization/Stop TB Partnership, 2008 – This comprehensive manual produced by the World Health Organization in cooperation with the Stop TB Partnership provides detailed step-by-step guidance to the design of a KAP survey, the data collection and analysis and the dissemination of findings. The guide presents many illustrative examples including work plans and sample questionnaires.

Using Survey Research to Evaluate Communications Campaigns, Belden, Russonello, & Stewart, Communications Consortium Media Centre, 2004 – This paper will outline the questions you need to ask in the design stages of a communications campaign to maximize your chances of using survey research only when you need it, as well as explain the different types of survey methodologies for evaluation and their advantages and disadvantages.