Who will analyse the data?

14The way you analyse your data should have been decided early on in the audit process as it could influence the type and quantity of data you collect. Data analysis can vary from straightforward numbers, percentages and averages to more complex statistics. As a rule simplicity ensures that everyone in the team understands how results have been obtained and it should be easily understood by patients and managers if the audit is to be used in planning constructive changes. More complex analysis benefits from specialist statistical expertise so it is recommended to keep it simple.

Types of Data

Numerical data

Some of the data items you collect are likely to be numerical values (e.g. age, length of stay in hospital, blood glucose level and so forth).

Tick-box data

It is likely that some of your data items will be answers to Yes / No questions, or tick-box options from lists of alternatives. In such cases it is usual to add up the numbers of answers recorded for each option and express the total as a raw number and as a percentage.

Free-text data

If you are left with free-text data, can you group comments into themes or categories? (i.e. as if you were creating tick-box options for the data collection form). You might also want to consider reproducing some comments verbatim in your report if they are particularly pertinent (UBHT 2005).