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Ideas about content, wording and design of
the questionnaire were developed through a number of pilot focus groups
both with non-sample young people and those attending the eight schools
in our research sites. Comparison with other studies was ensured by
adapting questions from a number of existing studies, including the
European Values Study (Ashford, S. and Timms, N. (1992) What Europe
Thinks: Study of Western European Values, Dartmouth: Aldershot); the
West of Scotland 11-16 Study (Sweeting, H.West, P. (1995) ‘Family life
and health in adolescence: A role for culture in the health
inequalities debate?’ Social Science and Medicine, 40(2) 163 175); and
the ESRC 11-16 Adolescent Identities Study (Banks et al. (1992) Careers
and identities, Buckingham: Open University Press).
The questionnaire was administered to 1800
young people in eight different schools and in the extra sites. Young
people were given the same set of instructions across all sites and
encouraged to request help from the researchers present as needed.
Confidentiality was emphasised as was the fact that responses would not
be fed back to teachers or carers on an individual level.
The majority of queries on the questionnaire
were on the meaning of a few questions: ‘euthanasia’, ‘pornography’,
and ‘cloning’. The questionnaire included an evaluation and the
comments made were, on the whole, favourable. Some young people,
however, felt it was too personal: ‘Too personal at the start
(demographic questions) I don’t like being asked to give information
about my family and friends’. A word search at the end of the
questionnaire was also popular and a good time filler for those who
completed early. Respondents were offered the opportunity to register
interest in participating further in the research. Some questions were
adapted for the Northern Ireland context.