The Houston Area Survey on Health, Education, and the Arts, also known as the SHEA study, was majorly funded by  Houston Endowment Inc. The three comprehensive surveys were designed to assess systematically Harris County residents' experiences and attitudes with regard to the arts, educational disparities, and public health issues in urban America.

The surveys were developed in consultation with local leaders and experts, many of whom served on one of three yearlong Advisory Panels, to help in the process of fashioning and interpreting the survey questions in each of these three key areas of urban life. The three surveys were conducted during 2011-2012, in telephone interviews with a scientifically selected representative sample of 1,200 Harris County residents each. Led by Professor Stephen L. Klineberg, the research team has published three reports on the most important findings of the surveys.

Another important outcome of this project was the establishment of three yearlong advisory panels on the arts, education, and community health. Each panel was composed of both local and national experts, who agreed to confer periodically with the project team, both by telephone and face-to-face meetings, from 2011 through 2012. The panels offered continuing guidance, technical support, and substantive advice, as the team worked to improve the research methodology and to design and complete the best possible surveys. You may click here for a full list of the researchers and experts whom we have consulted on the project.

In addition, the research team has conducted extensive literature reviews in the three substantive areas covered by the SHEA study. Click through the menu to find a collection of the best research reports and journal articles that the project has identified.

shea project

Houston Endowment Inc. is a philanthropic organization founded in 1937 by Jesse and Mary Gibbs. Its vision is to build a healthy and vibrant community through the establishment and development of institutions and organizations that would nurture the people in the greater Houston area and encourage the growth of the city.

Development of the Survey Instruments

The SHEA study focuses on the residents of Harris County, since almost 70 percent of everyone in the vast, ten-county, multi-centered Houston metropolitan region resides in this county.

The research team organized and convened a series of planning sessions, focus group discussions, and one-on-one interviews with local experts and stakeholders in a concerted effort to ensure that the research is of real and lasting value to the wider Houston community and across the nation.

We have also identified a group of important national figures in each of the three substantive areas, and invited the most knowledgeable and experienced experts available to serve on the advisory panels guide the design and structure of the new surveys. Click here for a list of the researchers and experts who participated in this process.

Given that a growing number of Americans are eliminating the traditional landlines in favor of cellphones, a trend led by the young and the poor, it is critical to secure interviews from a random-digit-dialing (RDD) sample of cellphone numbers. The sampling design for this study included 70% of landline and 30% of cellular telephone numbers selected randomly from the pool of numbers expected to serve the Harris County area. The use of a dual-frame RDD sampling design compensated for undercoverage bias.

Using "back translation" and the reconciliation of discrepancies, the questionnaires were translated into Spanish.The final questionnaires were reformatted and programmed into the computer-assisted telephone interviewing system, also known as CATI, for use in interviewing. Bilingual supervisors and interviewers were assigned to the project at all times.

Questions and Answers

1. What does SHEA stand for?

SHEA stands for the Survey of Health, Education, and the Arts. It is a research project to develop and complete a comprehensive assessment of the experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of Harris County residents with regard to central issues affecting the arts, education, and community health in the Houston area, and to host a national conference to explore the implications of the survey findings.

2. Who led this research project?

The SHEA study was developed by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. Professor Stephen L. Klineberg is the principal investigator of this research project. Ms. Jie Wu oversaw the research and took responsibility for the implementation of the details of the project.

3. Why was the geographic sampling area in Harris County?

We concentrated on Harris County, since almost 70 percent of everyone in this vast, ten-county, multi-centered metropolitan region (the model example of an "MCMR") still resides in Harris County.

4. Who were interviewed?

The surveys each have reached approximately 1,200 respondents in Harris County.  This enabled us to get a wide range of people in terms of age, ethnicity, income, and to be zero in the differences among the area residents. The survey were conducted in English and Spanish. The Survey Research Institute (SRI) at the University of Houston's Hobby Center for Public Policy administered the telephone interviews.

5. What does "back-translation" and "reconciliation of discrepancies" mean?

These methods were used to ensure that our English and Spanish versions of the surveys were comparable. It requires two bilingual translators: One translated the English version of the questionnaire into Spanish; while the other who had never seen the English version translated the Spanish version into English. Then we tried to figure out the discrepancies and find the right wording of the questions.

6. What was the weighting process?

Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS), a Philadelphia-based research firm, conducted the weighting process, using census data to correct for nonresponse and coverage biases in the sample and assigning weights to ensure that the final distributions are in close agreement with the actual Harris County distributions with respect to such variables as age, gender, race and ethnicity, education level, and home ownership. The weighted figures provide a more accurate and reliable reflection of the actual attitudes and experiences to be found within the Harris County population as a whole. The results presented in the reports used the weighted data.

7. Who funded this project?

The SHEA study was majorly funded by the Houston Endowment, Inc.

8. Whom shall I contact if I want more information regarding the SHEA study?

Click here to download the variable lists and the data request form. Please call 713-348-4132 for more information, or email us at kinder@rice.edu.