Resource Corner Blog

Multiple Choice Dropdown Fields | What Did You Get Yourself Into?

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The form fields that are selected for each question will determine the quality of a form and the quality of the data you collect in your EHR software. It’s important that you understand each of the different field types to make sure you’re selecting the one that works best for your purposes.

The Greeks won the Trojan War by hiding in the Trojan Horse and having it delivered to Troy, so it could be offered up to Athena, the goddess of war. Then they snuck out in the middle of the night and attacked. Pretty clever.

Multiple choice dropdown fields are just like the Trojan Horse. Except that instead of hiding stealthy Greeks, they’re hiding a reporting headache. If the appearance of a single choice dropdown field is the beautiful wooden horse, then the ability to select multiple options is the Grecian warriors inside ready to attack and cause chaos.

These fields seem incredibly useful for capturing data – they give users the opportunity to select all the options that they feel are applicable.

So, you’d think that it’d be more accurate because of that, right?

Selecting multiple responses causes issues once you’re ready to begin reporting on your data. The data these fields collect is what we call “dirty data” and is much harder to work with than the “clean data” you’d collect from other field types. The best way to think about it is to picture an Excel spreadsheet. A multiple choice dropdown would put each selection in the same cell, separated by a comma. So, if someone selects seven options from the dropdown, each option is in the same cell.

To use the data, you’ll need to go through it and place each option selected in its own cell, which will require the creation of duplicate rows. This will allow you to report on this data as if it was discrete. Depending on the size of your data set, this may be too time-consuming to be a feasible option.

If you decide to use multiple choice dropdowns when building your form, make sure to consider how you will work with the data when you’re ready to report on it.

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