What is a Likert Scale?

Likert scale

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A Likert scale question is a closed-ended, ordered scale where respondents choose one option that best aligns with their views. Likert scale survey questions use preselected response choices that range from one extreme opinion to the other. Likert scale questions are often used to measure the attitudes of participants by asking to what extent they agree or disagree with a specific question or statement.  

Likert scales are one of the most popular response scales used in survey questions because they are a reliable way to measure degrees of opinions, or lack thereof, on various subjects.  

They allow for more granular feedback compared to binary questions, which only allow two answer choices. For example, binary questions may have Yes/No or True/False response options. Discovering degrees of opinion beyond Yes or No with a Likert scale can make the feedback more useful and actionable. 

Example Likert Scale Questions

Likert scales can be used to measure levels of satisfaction, agreement, frequency, quality, importance, likelihood, etc.  

A few examples:

How satisfied are you with the wait time for your appointment?

  • Very satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
  • Dissatisfied
  • Very Dissatisfied


When I was discharged, I was given clear instructions for my aftercare.  

  • Strongly Agree 
  • Agree 
  • Neutral  
  • Disagree 
  • Strongly Disagree 

Response Choices: Odd vs. Even 

Odd

Scales with an odd number of response choices will have a middle value, like the examples above. The middle value is typically labeled “Neither agree nor disagree,” “Neutral,” or “Undecided.” 

Since Likert scales measure the intensity of feelings, a neutral option is important. Without a neutral option, respondents would be forced to choose an answer on either the positive or negative side of the scale, even if that does not accurately reflect how they feel. 

Even

With an even number of response choices, the middle option is removed, forcing the respondent to have an opinion or feeling on a subject. Even-numbered scales do not allow people with little or no opinion on a subject to express themselves properly. Forcing a choice can lead to frustration or inaccurate responses.  


Tips for a successful survey:  

  • Provide balanced response options (whether odd or even) 
  • Be sure labels are clear and accurate 
  • If using an odd number response survey, label the mid-point 
  • While labels may change, keep the same scale throughout the survey to eliminate confusion  
  • Always test your survey 


Why Use a 5-point Likert Scale?

Likert scales can consist of any number of response options. At ClearSurvey, we recommend using the 5-point Likert scale. Research has shown that a 5-point response scale increases response rate and response quality while reducing the frustration level of respondents.  

Another reason we recommend a 5-point Likert scale is because it is the most common method of collecting data.  Consistency is critical when it comes to comparing your data to previous benchmarks or benchmarking against industry standards.  

Benefits of using a 5-point Likert Scale

  • Simple to understand for both administrator and respondent 
  • Takes less time and effort to complete than higher point scales  
  • Fits mobile device screens better than higher point scales 
  • Allows for degrees of opinions without becoming overwhelming 
  • Gives respondents a neutral option 
  • Produces quantitative, reliable data that is easier to analyze 

Using Likert Scale Questions in Your Patient Satisfaction Survey

If only closed-ended questions are included in a survey, you will only gather quantitative data and no qualitative data. For example, you might learn that a patient is not satisfied with their visit to your practice, but you will have no idea why.  

Including at least one open-ended question allows respondents to shed some light on the reasoning behind their survey responses. 

Get Started with ClearSurvey

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ClearSurvey is a best-in-class survey system focused on helping medical practices offer the best patient satisfaction in healthcare. We can help you develop a custom survey question-set based on your goals so you can gather data for useful insights. Learn more about how ClearSurvey can elevate your practice or schedule a demo today

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