A comparison of response rate, data quality, and cost in the collection of data on sexual history and personal behaviors: Mail survey approaches and in-person interview

Sharon J. Rolnick, Cynthia R Gross, Judith Garrard, Robert W. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examined differences in rate of response, data quality, and cost between mail approaches and in-person interview in the collection of data on sexual history and personal behaviors. A sample of women from a midwestern United States university (n = 342) was identified from health service medical records as having been seen for a sexually transmitted disease (cases) or a contraceptive visit (controls) during the latter half of 1985. The women were randomly assigned to one of three data collection strategies. A total of 268 subjects (78%) participated. Results indicated no differences in validity by method of data collection or by case-control status but there were significant differences in completeness, cost, and response rates. In-person interviews resulted in more complete data than mail approaches, although all instruments had low proportions of missing data (0.001-0.006). Response rate differences were not found when data collection methodologies were compared (75-82%) but were found in case-control analyses. Cases were consistently less likely to participate and significantly less likely to respond by mail (p <0.05). The cost of the in-person interview was approximately four times that of the mail survey for the data collection. Implications of the case-control response rate difference suggest that mail methodologies, although low in cost, may introduce sampling bias in studies of sexually transmitted diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1061
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Volume129
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1989

Keywords

  • Data collection
  • Sex behavior

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