Health Policy

Elderly nonrespondents to a mail survey: a telephone follow-up.

Strayer, M.S.; Kuthy, R.A.; Sutton, S.
1993 Nov-Dec


The most frequently used method to request and collect health-related information has been the mail questionnaire. While self-administered surveys offer a relatively low-cost and convenient method for collecting health data, they have been unpopular among researchers because of concerns about low response rates and nonresponse bias. This study examines differences in demographic and health characteristics between mail survey respondents and nonrespondents who were subsequently interviewed by telephone. Subjects for this study had at least one health care encounter in 1990 from a Medicare-waiver program. The telephone survey was conducted approximately two months after the last wave of a three-wave mailing survey of this urban elderly population. No significant differences were found between telephone and mail respondents for demographic, socioeconomic, quality of life, or perceived oral health characteristics. However, mail respondents were more likely to be dentate and report better perceived general health than were the telephone respondents.