Demographic and Occupational Predictors of Early Response to a Mailed Invitation to Enroll in a Longitudinal Health Study
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA
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Background Often in survey research, subsets of the population invited to complete the survey do not choose to participate. This may result in substantial bias if important dissimilarities between participants and non-participants are not identified. Differences between participants and non-participants, as well as the heterogeneity of non-participants, have been well-documented however few studies have investigated the impact of early response refusal or consent on epidemiologic studies. Results Demographic, deployment, and occupational characteristics were studied among early refusers n704, early consenters n21,820, and late or non-responders n191,867 in a large cohort study of US military personnel. Early response was defined by those who submitted a questionnaire or explicitly refused to participate within two months from the start of study enrollment. From regression analyses, we found that factors associated with both early refusal and early consent included older age, higher education, White raceethnicity, ReserveGuard affiliation and certain information technology and support occupations. Conclusions These data suggest that early refusers may differ from latenon-responders, and that certain characteristics are associated with both early refusal and early consent to participate. Structured recruitment efforts which utilize these differences may achieve early response such that valuable resources and mail costs are reduced in subsequent contact efforts.
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- Medicine and Medical Research