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Increasing response rates to lifestyle surveys: a review of methodology and 'good practice'.

McCluskey, Serena and Topping, Annie (2009) Increasing response rates to lifestyle surveys: a review of methodology and 'good practice'. Project Report. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

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    Abstract

    Background
    Lifestyle surveys are traditionally used for collecting detailed population information about
    individual behaviours that impact on health. However, declining response rates and the
    under-representation of certain population groups in lifestyle survey data has led to
    uncertainty over the accuracy of any findings. In order to maximise response rates, a
    mixed-methods approach is now recommended. This review was carried out in order to
    examine the methodological literature related to the administration of lifestyle surveys and
    the implications for response rates. It was envisaged that the results of this review could
    provide a valuable resource for those involved in undertaking lifestyle surveys.
    Methods
    A review of the empirical evidence and published literature on the methodological
    considerations associated with administration of lifestyle surveys, specifically in relation to
    maximising response rates, was carried out. A search for ‘grey literature’ was also
    conducted using the internet, and citation tracking was performed on all retrieved articles.
    A request for examples of relevant lifestyle survey work, particularly those incorporating
    mixed-methods designs and/or strategies to increase response rates, was distributed to
    several Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) across England. The responses are illustrated as
    ‘good practice’ case studies.
    Results
    The postal questionnaire remains an important lifestyle survey tool, but response rates
    have decreased rapidly in recent years. Interviews and telephone surveys are
    recommended in order to supplement data from postal questionnaires to overcome any
    literacy and language barriers. These approaches are advocated to increase response
    rates in some population groups, but costs may be prohibitive. Electronic surveys are a
    cheaper alternative, but the evidence seems to suggest that the use of the internet does
    not appear to increase overall response rates to surveys. Evidence on the use of
    incentives suggests they can be effective at increasing response rates, but only if their use
    is tailored to the design of the survey and to the characteristics of target populations.
    Conclusions
    The empirical evidence was not robust enough to make definitive recommendations, but
    information from the published literature, along with examples of ‘good practice’ in lifestyle
    survey work suggests that supplementing, or offering different survey modes, alongside
    targeted maximisation strategies can increase coverage and also, with careful planning,
    can prove to be cost-effective.

    Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    School of Human and Health Sciences > Centre for Health and Social Care Research
    Related URLs:
    Depositing User: Serena Mccluskey
    Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2010 11:59
    Last Modified: 06 Jan 2011 19:12
    URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/6878

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