Comparison response patterns on landline and cell phone in a call back survey: effects of demographic characteristics and lag days

Xiaoting Qin, Cathy M. Bailey & Hatice S. Zahran
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Asthma and Community Health Branch, Buford, Atlanta, USA


The Asthma Call-back Survey (ACBS) is conducted after the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey by calling BRFSS respondents who reported ever being diagnosed with asthma. To find response patterns and increase ACBS response rates, we first examined whether obtaining consents during the BRFSS survey could increase call back response rates by reducing the refusal and break-off. Then, we assessed how the lag days between BRFSS and ACBS interviews affected response rates. BRFSS cell phone respondents agreed more often to being called back than did landline respondents (75.5 vs. 70.9 percent). However, when respondents were contacted for ACBS, the …


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Undercoverage of the elderly institutionalized population: The risk of biased estimates and the potentials of weighting Special issue

Jan-Lucas Schanze, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany
Stefan Zins, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany


In most social surveys, the elderly institutionalized population is not part of the target population because it is considered as hard-to-reach and hard-to-interview. The deliberate exclusion of institutionalized elderly from survey samples might cause bias, like previous studies investigating institutionalized elderly persons and their transition to institutions implied. We use a Monte Carlo simulation based on cross-national samples of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) to test whether the noncoverage and undercoverage of the elderly institutionalized population lead to biased estimates. Moreover, we examined to what extent weights could be used to correct for the underrepresentation …


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How to reach ‘hard-to-reach’ older people for research: The TIBaR model of recruitment Special issue

Kerstin Kammerer, Institute for Gerontological Research, Torstraße 178, D-10115 Berlin, Germany
Katrin Falk, Institute for Gerontological Research, Torstraße 178, D-10115 Berlin, Germany
Anna Herzog, Institute for Gerontological Research, Torstraße 178, D-10115 Berlin, Germany
Judith Fuchs, Robert Koch Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Health Monitoring, General-Pape-Str. 62-66, D-12101 Berlin, Germany


Recruiting older persons with diverse health statuses as participants in research projects is a challenge for health researchers, particularly because persons with health impairments and in socially disadvantaged living conditions are difficult to reach. This article presents a step model for gaining access to older people who are difficult to contact. The step model is based on the literature and a qualitative analysis of documentation, field notes and memos that stem from the recruitment processes of two studies from the German research consortium ‘Autonomy despite multimorbidity in old age’, both of which also included older persons who would qualify as …


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Interviewing elderly in nursing homes – Respondent and survey characteristics as predictors of item nonresponse Special issue

Patrick Kutschar, Institute of Nursing Science and Practice, Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg, Austria (patrick.kutschar@pmu.ac.at)
Martin Weichbold, Department of Sociology, Paris Lodron University, Salzburg, Austria (martin.weichbold@sbg.ac.at)


Survey methodology is applied regularly in medical, nursing or social science studies examining elderly populations. Research in nursing home residents, where age-related or pathological declines in cognitive function are highly prevalent, faces several methodological challenges. The quality of survey data may be subject to population-specific measurement errors. In this article, data of two studies about pain in nursing homes are used to examine which respondent-, survey- and item characteristics predict item nonresponse. Chances for non-substantial answers are higher for older residents, for females and for those with more cognitive impairment. If residents are in pain, valid answers are more likely. …


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Effects of a sequential mixed-mode design on participation, contact and sample composition – Results of the pilot study “IMOA – Improving Health Monitoring in Old Age” Special issue

Beate Gaertner*, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Denise Lüdtke*, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Carmen Koschollek, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Maike M Grube, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Jens Baumert, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Christa Scheidt-Nave, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Antje Gößwald, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Judith Fuchs, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
Matthias Wetzstein, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany
*shared first authorship


Existing health survey data of individuals who are 65+ years of age is limited due to the exclusion of the oldest old and physically or cognitively impaired individuals. This study aimed to assess the effects of a sequential mixed-mode design on (1) contact and response rates, (2) sample composition and (3) non-response bias. A register-based random sample of 2,000 individuals 65+ years was initially contacted by mail to answer a health questionnaire. Random subgroups of initial non-responders were further contacted by telephone or home visits. Participation by interview or proxy was possible. After postal contact only, the initial contact and …


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