An important source of evidence for the 2011 national evaluation of MSOAP and VOS was the views and perspectives of outreach service providers supported under these programs. To provide a comprehensive opportunity for service providers to express their views, and to estimate other aspects of the program that were not available elsewhere, two surveys were undertaken: one of MSOAP providers and one of VOS providers.

Following discussions with key stakeholders draft survey instruments were developed. These were circulated to DoHA officers, MSOAP fundholders and the Optometrists Association of Australia for comment prior to finalisation. The surveys were designed to capture the experience and involvement of service providers in MSOAP and VOS and their assessment of aspects of the programs, including ideas for improvement. The surveys were submitted to and approved by the Health and Medical Human Research Ethics Committee of the University of Wollongong and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (Reference HE11/330).

Appendix 3.d shows a copy of the MSOAP survey and Appendix 3.e shows a copy of the VOS survey.

The surveys, including participant information, were forwarded by email to clinical service providers by each MSOAP fundholder to MSOAP providers and by DoHA to VOS providers. The questionnaire was able to be completed either as an online survey (accessed through a link provided in the email) or a paper based response which could be emailed, faxed or posted. Fundholders and DoHA were requested to provide numbers of service providers to whom surveys had been distributed. In some instances, fundholders distributed the survey to a contracted organisation that forwarded the survey onto participating clinicians.

Respondents were given two weeks to respond to the survey (by 2 September 2011), although in some instances, fundholders did not distribute surveys until 10 days prior to the due date. Reminder emails were sent to service providers three working days prior to the survey close. Survey responses were accepted up until 13 September 2011.

The Optometrists Association of Australia included information about the VOS survey on its web site and in a newsletter that was distributed 10 days prior to the survey close.

Overall, 252 valid MSOAP survey responses were received and 42 valid responses to the VOS survey. On-line response where responses to only up to three questions were recorded were deemed as invalid. There were four invalid responses and one invalid VOS survey response.

Under both surveys, respondents were requested to provide details on one or two locations visited as part of their outreach involvement. Service providers visiting only one location were requested to provide information on that location. Service providers visiting more than one location were requestion to provide information on the largest location (in terms of population) visited and the smallest location visited. For the MSOAP survey, 377 valid responses were received related to 172 individual locations. For the VOS survey, 61 valid responses were received related to 53 individual locations.

Appendix 3.b below sets out key tables from the MSOAP survey, including a calculation of response rates. Appendix 3.c sets out key tables from the MSOAP survey including a calculation of response rates.