Editors and researchers beware: Calculating response rates in random digit dial health surveys

Grant R. Martsolf, Robert E. Schofield, David R. Johnson, Dennis P. Scanlon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective To demonstrate that different approaches to handling cases of unknown eligibility in random digit dial health surveys can contribute to significant differences in response rates. Data Source Primary survey data of individuals with chronic disease. Study Design We computed response rates using various approaches, each of which make different assumptions about the disposition of cases of unknown eligibility. Data Collection Data were collected via telephone interviews as part of the Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) consumer survey, a representative survey of adults with chronic illnesses in 17 communities and nationally. Principal Findings We found that various approaches to estimating eligibility rates can lead to substantially different response rates. Conclusions Health services researchers must consider strategies to standardize response rate reporting, enter into a dialog related to why response rate reporting is important, and begin to utilize alternate methods for demonstrating that survey data are valid and reliable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-676
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Services Research
Issue number2 PART1
StatePublished - Apr 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy


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