Interview Script Examples

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Example 1: Adapted from Minnesota Department of Health standard foodborne disease outbreak case questionnaire.

Hello. My name is _______________________and I’m calling from________________. I’m calling because there have been several cases of _______________ in our community and we are working to identify the source of infection, so we can prevent additional illness in the community. We understand that you are one of the people who had this illness. I would like to ask you some questions about your illness and foods that you ate before becoming ill, that will help us in this work. This will take about ____ minutes. Can we go ahead?

If no: Is there a convenient time I can call you back?

Day _____________          Time ___:___ am pm

Example 2: Adapted from Investigation by the Canadian Field Epidemiology Program

Hello, my name is _____________________________ and I am an investigator with ___________________. Could I please speak to (client name)___________________________?

I am calling because we are doing some follow-up with people who were diagnosed with Salmonella in the past 6 weeks, and we need your help to prevent additional illnesses in your community. You may remember speaking to one of our staff when you were diagnosed with Salmonella a few months ago. Around the same time, other cases of Salmonella occurred in the area, and we have not been able to confirm where you and these other people acquired their illness. We have some extra questions we would like to ask you today that will help us identify how you became ill, and may be able to prevent other people from getting ill.

Your participation is voluntary and your personal information you provide is confidential and will not be shared with anyone outside of the investigative team. Anonymous results from this survey will be shared with others so we can work together to reduce the number of Salmonella cases in _____________, and we would be happy to share the results with you once our investigation is complete. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete. Would you like to participate?

Before we begin, since we will be talking about events that happened up to 6 weeks ago, you may find it helpful to use an agenda, calendar, or daytimer, or to check your computer, email, or Smartphone or Blackberry. I would be happy to wait for you if you could find such an aid.

Would you like to take some time now to try to find a calendar?

Example 3:

Hello, this is _______ calling from the _________. Am I speaking with _______? Hi_____, I am calling in regards to the illness you/your son/your daughter had back in the month of ______. We have linked your illness to other illnesses and are currently investigating to determine the source of infection. Is now a good time for you to chat?

If no:

Is there a better time I can call you back at?

If yes: 

Great! I will be asking some questions regarding your food exposures ____ days before the beginning of your symptoms. I know this may have been a while ago and recalling specifics may be difficult. Is there anything you would like to grab before we begin to help jog your memory? I would suggest having a calendar out in front of you as I will be asking questions for the time period of _________ day to ________ day. Other useful aids include receipts, bank records, agendas, and your smartphone.

Do you have any questions for me before we begin? Okay, let’s get started!


Example 1: Adapted from a provincial investigation questionnaire

Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about your illness. Do you have any final questions or comments?

The questionnaire is now complete. Thank you very much for your participation.

Example 2: Adapted from Investigation by the Canadian Field Epidemiology Program

This brings us to the end of the interview. Are there any other questions you would like to ask?

Would you like to be contacted again to learn the outcome of this investigation?

We may need to contact you again in the future as we get closer to determining the potential cause of your infection. Would that be okay?

I would like to express our sincere thanks to you for assisting us with this very important investigation. Thank you for your time.

Example 3:

This brings us to the end of the interview! Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me today, it is truly appreciated. The information you have provided will be a great help! Did you have any questions for me?

You may be re-contacted again in the future regarding this investigation but it would be a shorter call with some follow-up questions.

If applicable:

I will be sending you an email with the consent form attached for ______ loyalty consent. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions regarding this process.

If applicable: 

I can also send the link to the related public health notice for this investigation so you can stay well-informed.

Thank you again for all your help, and have a lovely day!


Example Open-Ended Questions

  • What are your typical meals, beverages, snacks?
    • During the week?
    • On the weekends?
  • Does your household eat together or separate
    • Eat the same things or different?
  • Do you like eating out a lot or prefer home-cooked meals?
  • What kind of activities do you do after work or school?
    • Do you consume any foods at these activities?
  • What do you do on your weekends?
  • Who does the grocery shopping in your household?
    • Where do you shop?
  • Who does the cooking in your household?
  • What are your favourite hobbies?

Additional Questions to incorporate:

  • Ask about the exposures reported by other cases to find any common links

Meal Preferences Template

Weekday Preferences:

























Weekend Preferences:


























Use the meal preferences template when:

  • A case needs help recalling their food history
  • During open ended interviewing
  • When the interviewer would like to gain insight into the case’s typical habits and food exposures

Case Interviews – FAQs


How will my information be used?

The information you give regarding your food exposures will be used to help PHAC try to find the source of illnesses. Your information will be kept confidential and anonymous throughout the investigation. It will be compared to other case’s food exposures to look for commonalities. If the source of infection is found a Public Health Notice will be posted online to advise the public of the source and CFIA may issue a food recall warning.


How did you get my contact information?

The illness you had was one of Canada’s nationally notifiable diseases. Health care practitioners and laboratories are required by law to report any notifiable diseases to public health within their province/territory. We received your contact information (name and number) from public health in your province/territory. Only the interviewer has access to your contact information and we do not keep it after the investigation is over.


What do you mean by the cases are linked?

Your illness and other individual’s illnesses have similar genetic fingerprints that we suspect may be connected to a common source. We are interviewing cases in order to look for commonalities in food exposures so we can identify the source of the infection and prevent/reduce others from also getting sick.


Will you update me on the investigation?

Investigation not already public:

If a source is identified, a public health notice will be posted online at to ensure that we get the message out to all Canadians.

Investigation is already public:

A public health notice has been posted online at and we will continue to update the notice as the investigation continues.


Why am I being contacted again?

Re-interviewing is often completed when illnesses are identified across multiple provinces, as we require more specific information regarding food exposures that may not have been asked about previously.


How long will the interview take?

The length will depend on the specific food exposures you have. Please note that we do not have to do it all at once if you have limited time or we can call you back at a more convenient time.


Examples of the length of time required:

  • Hypothesis Generating Questionnaire: Salmonella ~ 1 hour
  • Hybrid Questionnaire (frozen chicken focused): ~ 20-30 minutes


Why are you contacting me so long after I was sick?

It can take up to a few weeks from when you first become ill to when you are tested by a physician and laboratory results confirm your illness. We are only notified of illnesses when related illnesses are reported in more than one province/territory. Sometimes this can take a month or longer.


What is a Nationally Notifiable Disease?

It is a disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities.  This allows Public Health to monitor the disease and provide an early warning of possible outbreaks. A list can be found at with fact sheets on specific diseases.


Do I have to participate?

No, but the information you share with us could greatly help with our investigation regarding the source of your illness and in protecting others from getting sick as well.


I still have symptoms, what should I do?

We are very sorry to hear this. If you are still experiencing symptoms it is best to seek the help of your family doctor or other medical health practitioner.

Other resources:

  • Telehealth
  • PHAC – Disease Fact Sheets


Who is the Public Health Agency of Canada and What do they do?

The Public Health Agency of Canada is the main Government of Canada agency responsible for public health in Canada. The Agency’s primary goal is to strengthen Canada’s capacity to protect and improve health of Canadians and to help reduce pressure on the health-care system. If you would like more information, please go online to the following website: