Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Improving Methods to Contact and Obtain Cooperation

06/01/2002

First and foremost in any survey operation is the need to develop an infrastructure that maintains control over cases as they move from the initial prenotification letter to call scheduling and case documentation. Understanding what stage each case is in and what has been tried already is critical to making sure each case goes through all possibilities. These basics are not particularly expensive to implement and can yield a large payoff in terms of completed interviews. For example, supervisory staff should be reviewing telephone cases as they move to different dispositions, such as ring, no answer, initial refusal, or subject not at this number. As with tracing, supervisors should review cases and make case-by-case determinations on the most logical next step.

Monitoring of the call scheduling also should ensure that different times of the day and different days are used when trying to contact respondents. This is one big advantage of a centralized computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI). The computer deals cases at the appropriate times and pretty much ensures that the desired calling algorithms are followed. However, if the study is being done with paper and pencil, then a system to document and monitor call history should be in place to ensure that this occurs.

Prenotification is being used extensively for the studies reviewed earlier. Low-income populations are particularly difficult to reach by mail. For this reason, some attention to the form and content of this correspondence is likely worth a small investment of professional time. This includes, for example, the way the letters are addressed (e.g., labels, computer generated, hand written), the method of delivery (express delivery versus first-class mail) and the clarity of the message. The contents of the letter should be structured to be as clear and as simple as possible. One study reviewed earlier noted an improvement (although not experimentally tested) when formatting letters with large subheadings and minimal text. The details surrounding the study were relegated to a question-and-answer sheet. We also have found this to be an improvement over the standard letter-type format. Similarly, use of express delivery, at least when there is some confidence in the validity of the respondents address, may also be a cost-effective way to provide respondents with information about the survey that would eventually increase their motivation to participate.

Incentives are also being used in the studies mentioned previously. We have not elaborated on this much, partly because another paper will be presented on just this topic. One pattern we did notice for the studies reviewed earlier was that all incentives are promised for completion of the interview. Amounts generally ranged from $15 to $50, with the largest amounts being paid at the end of field periods to motivate the most reluctant respondents. Research has found that prepaid incentives are more effective than promised incentives. Research we have done in an RDD context has shown, in fact, that not only is more effective, but the amount of money needed to convince people to participate is much smaller. It may be worth experimenting with prepayments that are considerably smaller than the current promised incentives (e.g., $5) to see if there is a significant improvement in the ability to locate and interview respondents.

In conclusion, conducting a telephone survey of low-income populations is a task that requires careful preparation and monitoring. The surveys implemented by states to this point have been discovering this as they attempt to locate and interview respondents. Improving response rates will require attention to increasing the information used to locate respondents, as well as making it as easy as possible for respondents to participate. This paper has provided a thumbnail sketch of some important procedures to consider to achieve this goal. It will be interesting to see how future surveys adapt or innovate on these procedures to overcome the barriers they are currently encountering.

View full report

Preview
Download

"01.pdf" (pdf, 472.92Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"02.pdf" (pdf, 395.41Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"03.pdf" (pdf, 379.04Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"04.pdf" (pdf, 381.73Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"05.pdf" (pdf, 393.7Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"06.pdf" (pdf, 415.3Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"07.pdf" (pdf, 375.49Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"08.pdf" (pdf, 475.21Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"09.pdf" (pdf, 425.17Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"10.pdf" (pdf, 424.33Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"11.pdf" (pdf, 392.39Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"12.pdf" (pdf, 386.39Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"13.pdf" (pdf, 449.86Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®

View full report

Preview
Download

"14.pdf" (pdf, 396.87Kb)

Note: Documents in PDF format require the Adobe Acrobat Reader®. If you experience problems with PDF documents, please download the latest version of the Reader®