Research type: 
Year of report: 
Summary of findings: 
  • Overall, the results of the 2007 caller evaluation surveys reflect the results seen in the research conducted in previous years. The performance of all four helplines also demonstrates many similarities.
  • Callers have high expectations before they use the helplines, and these are almost always met or surpassed by their actual experience. The mechanics of finding the number, making the call and getting through to an advisor all function well for callers, with one exception being Sexwise which is significantly less likely to connect callers to an advisor on their first attempt.
  • The actual service received from the helplines gained very positive responses from callers, whether calling for themselves or on behalf of another. At least half of all callers to Drinkline, FRANK and SHL rate the service provided as excellent. Sexwise sees a slightly lower level of excellent ratings, but overall still sees a strong positive experience – however, attention to the issue of connecting callers to an advisor straight away could improve the experience further.
  • Callers feel that they are provided with both functional and emotional support within the course of their call, and consistently high ratings are seen across all individual elements of the service when specifically discussed.
  • Key in the 2007 survey are strong levels of propensity to use the helplines again in the future and to recommend the line to others. This demonstrates the strong level of satisfaction that callers have after their helpline experience.
  • An improvement is seen across the helplines in 2007 in the number of callers referred to a third party organisation for further assistance, and the majority of callers state a willingness to take this referral further. Callers are also open, to some degree, to the idea of being provided with additional information and/or their details being passed to a third party. This is an area which can be explored to further develop the service, particularly in the case of Drinkline.
  • Interest in forms of contact other than a telephone helpline is lower, again demonstrating that the current service meets callers’ needs on most levels. There is some indication that younger respondents might be interested in email or SMS contact, but the overriding preference is still for a telephone helpline service.
  • Whilst advertising is not a key area for all the helplines, the FRANK advertising campaign has performed well in 2007, seeing strong and increased awareness of TV advertising, supplemented by other media such as radio and posters.
Research objectives: 

This report provides a comparative overview of results of a study designed to evaluate levels of caller satisfaction with four government helplines.


These helplines offer confidential and anonymous advice and information on specific issues:

  • The Drinkline helpline was launched in 1993, with a remit to offer advice to people who need help and support with their own or someone else's drinking.
  • The FRANK helpline launched a decade later, with an aim to offer information and advice to young people and parents relating to drug use.
  • Sexwise was launched in 1995 with a remit to promote sex education, mainly to 13-19 year olds, by giving advice and support on topics ranging from puberty and peer pressure to advice on teenage pregnancy.
  • The Sexual Health Line (SHL) is the direct descendent of the National Aids Helpline that was established in the early nineties. Whilst the line covers a similar range of sexual health related issues to Sexwise, it is aimed at a more mature 18+ audience, with the emphasis on STI and HIV prevention and treatment.
Quick summary: 

This report provides a comparative overview of the results of a study designed to evaluate levels of caller satisfaction with four Government helplines:

  • Drinkline
  • Sexual Health Line
  • Sexwise
Research participants: 

Respondents were selected from callers to the particular helplines. At the end of their call, if the interviewer was free, the respondent was asked if they would take part in a survey. If they agreed an interview was carried out straight away. If the interviewer was not free then the respondent would not be interviewed.

Audience Summary


Not specified


Discussed in the report but not part of the sample selection process. A reflection of the type of helpline being evaluated

Social Class: 

Not specified


Data collection methodology: 
Other data collection methodology: 
  • The interviewing of callers to the four helplines who agreed to take part in the survey took place immediately after their conversation with an advisor. Interviews were conducted by an interviewer based on-site in Essentia’s Glasgow call centre. All callers were eligible for interview, with the exception of those deemed by the advisors to be too stressed by their call or situation and those exhibiting abusive behavior.
  • All interviews were conducted according to the “next available” rule, consistent with the previous waves of research carried out by the research agency. This meant that the next eligible and willing caller was always transferred for interview if the interviewer was free.
  • Whilst this approach limits the impact of advisor bias, a key issue to bear in mind when viewing these results is that all respondents are in effect self-selecting, as they have all agreed to go forward to complete an interview. As a consequence, their views may not necessarily be entirely representative of all callers to the line. Therefore, it is important that this data is used in conjunction with other research that has been carried out to provide a balanced perspective.
Sample size: 

555 telephone interviews were carried out, across the four helplines:

  • Drinkline – 136
  • FRANK – 156
  • Sexual Health Line – 95
  • Sexwise – 168
Detailed region: 

Not specified

Fieldwork dates: 

26 Feb – 4 May 2007 - Interviews conducted between 10am and 10pm every day

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Research agency: 
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