NORC Final Report: Healthy People User Study. Data Collection Techniques


The questionnaire was fielded from October 2008 until March 2009. Fielding the survey entailed mailing the questionnaire along with a cover letter to an identified staff member at each organization/agency. A self-addressed stamped envelope was included with each survey to facilitate the return of the questionnaire directly to NORC, the survey contractor. A follow-up letter was sent to non-respondents two weeks after the initial mailing, including information about completing the survey online; 26 percent of respondents completed the questionnaire online. Telephone prompting of those who had not responded began one month after the initial mailing. The telephone prompt also provided an opportunity to collect contact information for re-mailing or faxing questionnaires that had been lost or misplaced. Respondents were also given the option of completing the questionnaire over the telephone at that time; 5 percent of respondents completed the questionnaire over the telephone. Exhibit 3 indicates that for all sample types, mail was the most common mode of completion, followed by the web and then telephone.

Exhibit 3: Mode of Completion by Sample Type

Sample Type Mail Option Web Option Telephone Option
Healthy People State Coordinators 71% 27% 2%
State Chronic Disease Directors 61% 36% 2%
Local Health Organizations 73% 24% 3%
Tribal Health Organizations 57% 29% 12%
Multi-Tribal Area Health Boards 44% 33% 22%
Total 68% 26% 5%

Based on the 2005 User Assessment, the data collection period was anticipated to end within four months of the initial mailing being sent. However it was determined that additional time was necessary due to slower than anticipated survey response. The original follow-up protocol established a limit of eight calls for non-respondents, after which the individual case was closed and removed from further follow-up. The maximum limit on call attempts was relaxed due to the unexpected difficulty in reaching respondents during the telephone prompting. Also, a review of call logs revealed that the cases that were being closed after eight follow-up attempts included a high proportion of respondents that appeared inclined to participate in the survey5. Thus, during the third month of data collection this limit was relaxed and non-response cases were closed on an individual basis (after 15-25 call attempts). This resulted in a longer (yet more successful) data collection period, ending five months after the initial mailing was sent. Appendix 2 includes summary information on methodological lessons learned, which may be useful should this study be repeated.

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