Mortality and cancer rates in nonrespondents to a prospective study of older women: 5-year follow-up

Kristine M. Bisgard, Aaron R. Folsom, Ching Ping Hong, Thomas A. Sellers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Most studies are unable to follow nonrespondents prospectively to determine whether their disease rates are comparable with those of the respondents. The authors followed respondents and nonrespondents to a mailed questionnaire, sent to a random sample of Iowa women aged 55-69 years in 1986 (total sample, 98,029; 43% response), to characterize 5-year mortality rates for myocardial infarction and all causes, and attack rates for breast, endometrial, colon, lung, and all-site cancers. Compared with respondents, nonrespondents had higher myocardial infarction (1.47 vs. 0.93 per 1,000 person-years) and all-cause (12.32 vs. 7.89 per 1,000 person-years) mortality. They also had substantially higher attack rates for lung cancer (1.45 vs. 1.10 per 1,000 person-years), and slightly higher attack rates for all-site cancer (11.86 vs. 10.89 per 1,000 person-years). The associations of reported body mass index (weight/height2) with the study endpoints were generally similar among respondents and the total eligible sample, except for a more pronounced U-shaped total mortality association for the nonrespondents. Thus, although the occurrence of several diseases, especially those related to smoking, differed among respondents and nonrespondents, the association of body mass index with cancer occurrence was not appreciably affected by nonresponse bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-1000
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 15 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the National Cancer Institute grant R01CA39742. The authors thank Kathleen McKeen, Dr. Susan Kaye, and Dr. Robert Wallace for helpful contributions.


  • Body mass index
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Health surveys
  • Mortality
  • Neoplasms
  • Prospective studies


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