How To Build Your Custom Wellness Monitoring System (and free): Questionnaire Design

In the first post of this series we looked at some initial concerns that may arise and influence the design of a Wellness Monitoring System (See here for a good paper outlining concerns from an athlete’s perspective in this area). This post will cover how GoogleForms can be used to be the primary data collection source for our system. In order for this step you will need a Google account.

Setting Up Questionnaire

  • Select image of nine squares in top right
  • Select Google Drive
  • Select New ->> More ->> Google Forms
  • Now you have the blank template for a questionnaire

For this example we will cover 4 ways data entry can be formatted:

  • Drop-down Menus
  • Basic answer select
  • Image select
  • Number input with restrictions

Drop Down Menus – Name

Let’s have a “Name” question as our first one. “Name” will go into the space where it has “Untitled Questions”, then each player name will go into where there is “Option 1”. One the right side of the question where it currently has “Multiple Choice”, if we select that we have more options to format the question, we will pick “Drop-Down Menu”.

Restricted Number Input – Bodyweight

For bodyweight where we will be expecting a number input that can vary hugely between athletes, a drop-down menu or multiple choice isn’t an option. “Short Answer” is the best choice here as it allows for the athlete to input their own values. We can then restrict the values to reduce the chances of the data being input incorrectly by selecting the three dots in the lower right of the question box and then “Response Validation”. For weight the following may be considered:

  • Number input only.
  • Set a valid range by choosing:
    • “Between”.
    • Upper limit – Based on your athletes own data.
    • Lower Limit – Based on your athletes own data.

The “Response Validation” options are particularly useful when designing MSK based questionnaires where the data is mainly numerical and needs to be accurate to ensure correct interpretation.

Text Select – Upper Body Soreness

A third option for how we can layout the data input options is to use basic text to show the various options. We can do this within google forms by selecting “Multiple Choice” and typing out what we want for each option. It’s worthwhile in this scenario including a number along with the text so as to ensure everyone is clear about what option relates to what score (This also makes changing the number to a score easier later-on). In this scenario the text can be made to be relevant to the athletes in question, humorous etc. as a way to increase “interest” and responsiveness to the questions.

Image Select – Sleep Quality

We can add some variation to our multiple choice questions by using images instead of text. To do with we simply select the image icon towards the right of each answer option and then upload our desired image. As before, it’s worthwhile including a number which relates the score for the question (This number is what google will actually record as the answer).

Depending on the question you have the option of making the question mandatory or not by the selector in the bottom right of the question design box. If selected the questionnaire cannot be submitted until each question is answered.

You also have the option of making questionnaires section based, where an athlete must answer a section before proceeding to the next part of the questionnaire. This can be useful for MSK testing where tests may have to be performed in a certain order to prevent one test having a negative effect on another.


We have a few settings we can use to our advantage within google forms as well:

  • Randomise question order
    • Useful to increase “thinking” on the athlete’s part and prevent them from becoming robotic when they fill it i.e. fill in the same answer every day.
  • Show a progress bar
  • Show “Submit another response” link once questionnaire submitted (Important to allow multiple people complete without staff intervention)

Additional Setup

Next we can either preview our questionnaire as it is currently by selecting preview in the top right or customise the graphics by selecting “Customise Theme”. The theme options are simplistic however there is the option to upload an image to use as the questionnaire banner along the top along with set a background colour.


Within the preview screen you can test out the questionnaire by filling it out a few times. To view the responses we have the option of viewing them from the questionnaire formatting screen, however this is a very basic way and not the easiest to use as the number of athletes involved increases. We also have the option of creating a google sheets page where the answers will be automatically sent following completion of a questionnaire. We can then use this google sheets page to download the answers from automatically.

Additional Considerations

  • Alter images/text within questions on a semi-regular basis, this can increase buy-in as the athletes respond to additional effort on your part, it allows you to make the questions relevant to recent games, training or other events while also increasing the “effort” required to answer the question due to increased variety.
  • Include an optional question which may be a simple riddle, guess the movie/song, a joke etc. This serves multiple purposes, while injecting some lightheartedness into the questionnaire it’s also nice to have an easy conversation starter like this in there so in the situation where you want to ask about energy/soreness/sleep etc. you can start with something less intrusive/formal.
  • Close the loop. Athletes answer the questions, you must act on the answers when needed and they must know that you are.
  • The questionnaire itself can be made as an icon on certain phones or tablets (See here) or a link sent in an email/message on a regular basis to streamline access.

See here for a Wellness questionnaire constructed using the steps outlined above.

For those who may want a slightly more polished system than Google currently offers Airtable may be worth investigating. Although I haven’t personally used it yet, it does seem to offer more functionality than Google at minimal cost.

PS – Athletes may fill out a questionnaire such as this over 200 times a season (5 times a week for a 40 week season). A small bit of effort on your part across the season can vastly increase compliance on the athlete’s part. It’s a two way street, not a one-way boulevard.P

EDIT – 08/02/2019

For those looking for a more polished survey platform, Qualtrics would be worth investigating, where a free account offers a single questionnaire. It is also fully integretable with R due to the qualtRics package


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