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Exploring Nonresponse Bias in a Health Survey Using Neighborhood Characteristics (American Journal of Public Health)

October 1, 2009

CHIS Journal Article

Authors: Sunghee Lee, David Grant, PhD, Thomas Rice, PhD, J. Michael Brick

This study examines potential nonresponse bias in a large-scale, population-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey in California and its association with the response rate. Using 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data and 2000 U.S. Census data, and then linking the two data sets at the census tract level, the authors compared a broad range of neighborhood characteristics of respondents and nonrespondents to CHIS. They projected individual-level nonresponse bias using the neighborhood characteristics.

In conclusion, the authors found little to no substantial difference in neighborhood characteristics between respondents and nonrespondents. The response propensity of the CHIS sample was similarly distributed across these characteristics. The projected nonresponse bias appeared very small. The response rate in CHIS did not result in significant nonresponse bias and did not substantially affect the level of data representativeness, and it is not valid to focus on response rates alone in determining the quality of survey data.

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