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VOLUME 48 | NUMBER 2.1 | APRIL 2013

Editors and Researchers Beware: Calculating Response Rates in Random Digit Dial Health Surveys

Keywords: Survey research;random digit dial;response rate calculation;survey methodology

Objective: To demonstrate that different approaches to handling cases of unknown eligibility in random digit dial health surveys can contribute to significant differences in response rates.

Data Source: Primary survey data of individuals with chronic disease.

Study Design: We computed response rates using various approaches, each of which make different assumptions about the disposition of cases of unknown eligibility.

Data Collection: Data were collected via telephone interviews as part of the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) consumer survey, a representative survey of adults with chronic illnesses in 17 communities and nationally.

Principal Findings: We found that various approaches to estimating eligibility rates can lead to substantially different response rates.

Conclusions: Health services researchers must consider strategies to standardize response rate reporting, enter into a dialog related to why response rate reporting is important, and begin to utilize alternate methods for demonstrating that survey data are valid and reliable.

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