Performance Improvement 2003. National Center for Health Statistics


Evaluation of Non-response to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

The objective of this study was to reduce the non-response bias in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The central foci of this program assessment were the conduct of interviews and/or focus groups of respondents and non-respondents to evaluate potential reasons for response and non-response. The results of the ESP NHANES study mirror results from similar non- response studies. Sample members who chose to participate in the study were generally pleased to be a part of what they viewed as an important study. They were receptive to providing data on their health status and appreciated the opportunity to help society. The free medical examination was perceived as a very tangible benefit and many were surprised to learn they would also be paid for completing the interview and examination process. In contrast, non-respondents were more wary of the request for participation. Even aspects of the study meant to alleviate concerns or encourage participation were met with suspicion. Non-respondents also expressed great reluctance to commit the time necessary to complete the interview process. A number of recommendations were offered by the researchers, including: (1) providing greater detail about the study in the advance letter, (2) providing tailored interviewer training on refusal avoidance, and (3) developing a higher profile for the National Centers for Health Statistics, which tends to be an unfamiliar federal agency.

FEDERAL CONTACT: Vicki Burt, 301-458-4127 PIC ID: 7435

PERFORMER: Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC

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