Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.22, No.2, 2006. pp. 293312

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Can Web and Mail Survey Modes Improve Participation in an RDD-based National Health Surveillance?

Participation in most random-digit dialed (RDD) telephone surveys is declining, leaving researchers to question the quality of the data produced. As in the case of many other RDD studies, response rates for the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) have declined in recent years, prompting consideration of alternative modes to increase participation. In this study, web and mail versions of the BRFSS questionnaire were administered to potential respondents drawn from the standard BRFSS telephone sampling frame and reverse-matched to identify valid mailing addresses. Telephone survey follow-up was conducted with web and mail survey nonrespondents. Results were compared with those from the on-going computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) BRFSS. The findings suggest that self-administered modes when used in conjunction with telephone follow-up can improve levels of participation, but may also increase differences between respondents and nonrespondents on measures of interest. As a result, overall nonresponse bias may not have been reduced despite increases in response rates.

Web surveys, mail surveys, survey bias, RDD

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