Comparison of Two Within-Household Selection Methods in a Telephone Survey of Substance Abuse and Dependence

Timothy J. Beebe, Michael E. Davern, Donna D. McAlpine, Jeanette K. Ziegenfuss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: Random-digit dial telephone surveys often rely on the random selection of one respondent within the household. We compared a new method of within-household selection to a standard "next birthday" approach on selected survey process measures, respondent characteristics, and substantive results. Methods: From October 2004 through June 2005, we conducted a survey of adults in Minnesota to obtain information about substance use and need for treatment. Control group respondents (n = 1944) were selected using the "next birthday" method, and experimental group respondents (n = 1086) were selected using a new method developed by Rizzo, Brick, and Park. We assessed group differences for survey process measures, such as the number of attempts to interview and the refusal, response, and cooperation rates. We also examined whether the groups differed in demographic factors, substance use, and mental health. Results: The experimental group had higher rates of refusal and lower response and cooperation rates. Demographic factors and most measures of substance use and mental health did not differ significantly between groups. Conclusions: The experimental method of within-household selection developed by Rizzo and colleagues does not offer advantages over the classic "next birthday" method. Study limitations are discussed and opportunities for future research are identified.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-463
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of epidemiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Editing, proofreading, and reference verification were provided by the Section of Scientific Publications, Mayo Clinic. The authors thank the staff at the University of Minnesota Center for Survey Research in Public Health for collecting the data, managing the experiment, and providing information from their sample disposition files. They also thank the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. Funding for this study was provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.


  • Data Collection
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Interviews
  • Random-Digit Dialing
  • Sampling Studies


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