Who does not participate in a follow-up postal study? a survey of infertile couples treated by in vitro fertilization
A good response rate has been considered as a proof of a study’s quality. Decreasing participation and its potential impact on the internal validity of the study are of growing interest. Our objective was to assess factors associated with contact and response to a postal survey in a epidemiological study of the long-term outcome of IVF couples.
The DAIFI study is a retrospective cohort including 6,507 couples who began an IVF program in 2000-2002 in one of the eight participating French IVF centers. Medical data on all 6,507 couples were obtained from IVF center databases, and information on long-term outcome was available only for participants in the postal survey (n = 2,321). Logistic regressions were used to assess firstly factors associated with contact and secondly factors associated with response to the postal questionnaire among contacted couples.
Sixty-two percent of the 6,507 couples were contacted and 58% of these responded to the postal questionnaire. Contacted couples were more likely to have had a child during IVF treatment than non-contactable couples, and the same was true of respondents compared with non-respondents. Demographic and medical characteristics were both associated with probability of contact and probability of response. After adjustment, having a live birth during IVF treatment remained associated with both probabilities, and more strongly with probability of response. Having a child during IVF treatment was a major factor impacting on participation rate.
Non-response as well as non-contact were linked to the outcome of interest, i.e. long-term parenthood success of infertile couples. Our study illustrates that an a priori hypothesis may be too simplistic and may underestimate potential bias. In the context of growing use of analytical methods that take attrition into account (such as multiple imputation), we need to better understand the mechanisms that underlie attrition in order to choose the most appropriate method.
- Galea S, Tracy M: Participation rates in epidemiologic studies. Ann Epidemiol 2007, 17:643–653. CrossRef
- Altman DG: Statistics in medical journals: some recent trends. Stat Med 2000, 19:3275–3289. CrossRef
- Schneider KL, Clark MA, Rakowski W, Lapane KL: Evaluating the impact of non-response bias in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). J Epidemiol Community Health 2012, 66:290–295. Epub 2010 Oct 19 CrossRef
- Brilleman SL, Pachana NA, Dobson AJ: The impact of attrition on the representativeness of cohort studies of older people. BMC Med Res Methodol 2010, 10:71. CrossRef
- Littman AJ, Boyko EJ, Jacobson IG, Horton J, Gackstetter GD, Smith B, Hooper T, Wells TS, Amoroso PJ, Smith TC: Assessing nonresponse bias at follow-up in a large prospective cohort of relatively young and mobile military service members. BMC Med Res Methodol 2010, 10:99. CrossRef
- Kristman V, Manno M, Cote P: Loss to follow-up in cohort studies: how much is too much? Eur J Epidemiol 2004, 19:751–760. CrossRef
- Fewtrell MS, Kennedy K, Singhal A, Martin RM, Ness A, Hadders-Algra M, Koletzko B, Lucas A: How much loss to follow-up is acceptable in long-term randomised trials and prospective studies? Arch Dis Child 2008, 93:458–461. CrossRef
- Young AF, Powers JR, Bell SL: Attrition in longitudinal studies: who do you lose? Aust N Z J Public Health 2006, 30:353–361. CrossRef
- Morton LM, Cahill J, Hartge P: Reporting participation in epidemiologic studies: a survey of practice. Am J Epidemiol 2006, 163:197–203. CrossRef
- Razafindratsima N, Kishimba N, COCON Group: Attrition in the COCON cohort between 2000 and 2002. Popul (English) 2004, 59:357–385.
- Plewis I, Ketende S: Millennium Cohort Study: Technical Report on Response. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education; 2006.
- Ketende S: Millennium Cohort Study: Technical Report on Response. 2nd edition. London: Centre for Longitudinal Studies, Institute of Education; 2008.
- Nohr EA, Frydenberg M, Henriksen TB, Olsen J: Does low participation in cohort studies induce bias? Epidemiology 2006, 17:413–418. CrossRef
- Jacobsen TN, Nohr EA, Frydenberg M: Selection by socioeconomic factors into the Danish National Birth Cohort. Eur J Epidemiol 2010, 25:349–355. CrossRef
- Banks E, Redman S, Jorm L, Armstrong B, Bauman A, Beard J, Beral V, Byles J, Corbett S, Cumming R, et al.: Cohort profile: the 45 and up study. Int J Epidemiol 2008, 37:941–947. CrossRef
- Mealing NM, Banks E, Jorm LR, Steel DG, Clements MS, Rogers KD: Investigation of relative risk estimates from studies of the same population with contrasting response rates and designs. BMC Med Res Methodol 2010, 10:26. CrossRef
- Lee C, Dobson AJ, Brown WJ, Bryson L, Byles J, Warner-Smith P, Young AF: Cohort Profile: the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Int J Epidemiol 2005, 34:987–991. CrossRef
- Goldberg M, Chastang JF, Leclerc A, Zins M, Bonenfant S, Bugel I, Kaniewski N, Schmaus A, Niedhammer I, Piciotti M, et al.: Socioeconomic, demographic, occupational, and health factors associated with participation in a long-term epidemiologic survey: a prospective study of the French GAZEL cohort and its target population. Am J Epidemiol 2001, 154:373–384. CrossRef
- Goldberg M, Chastang JF, Zins M, Niedhammer I, Leclerc A: Health problems were the strongest predictors of attrition during follow-up of the GAZEL cohort. J Clin Epidemiol 2006, 59:1213–1221. CrossRef
- Olivius C, Friden B, Borg G, Bergh C: Why do couples discontinue in vitro fertilization treatment? a cohort study. Fertil Steril 2004, 81:258–261. CrossRef
- Schmidt L: Psychosocial burden of infertility and assisted reproduction. Lancet 2006,367(9508):379–380. CrossRef
- Filetto JN, Makuch MY: Long-term follow-up of women and men after unsuccessful IVF. Reprod Biomed Online 2005, 11:458–463. CrossRef
- Hammarberg K, Astbury J, Baker H: Women’s experience of IVF: a follow-up study. Hum Reprod 2001, 16:374–383. CrossRef
- Tate AR, Jones M, Hull L, Fear NT, Rona R, Wessely S, Hotopf M: How many mailouts? Could attempts to increase the response rate in the Iraq war cohort study be counterproductive? BMC Med Res Methodol 2007, 7:51. CrossRef
- Ludwig AK, Katalinic A, Jendrysik J, Thyen U, Sutcliffe AG, Diedrich K, Ludwig M: Spontaneous pregnancy after successful ICSI treatment: evaluation of risk factors in 899 families in Germany. Reprod Biomed Online 2008, 17:403–409. CrossRef
- Cahill DJ, Meadowcroft J, Akande VA, Corrigan E: Likelihood of natural conception following treatment by IVF. J Assist Reprod Genet 2005, 22:401–405. CrossRef
- de Graaf R, Bijl RV, Smit F, Ravelli A, Vollebergh WA: Psychiatric and sociodemographic predictors of attrition in a longitudinal study: The Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (NEMESIS). Am J Epidemiol 2000, 152:1039–1047. CrossRef
- Lee C, Dobson A, Brown W, Adamson L, Goldsworthy J: Tracking participants: lessons from the Women’s Health Australia Project. Aust N Z J Public Health 2000, 24:334–336. CrossRef
- Ware RS, Williams GM, Aird RL: Participants who left a multiple-wave cohort study had similar baseline characteristics to participants who returned. Ann Epidemiol 2006, 16:820–823. CrossRef
- Pinborg A, Hougaard CO, Nyboe Andersen A, Molbo D, Schmidt L: Prospective longitudinal cohort study on cumulative 5-year delivery and adoption rates among 1338 couples initiating infertility treatment. Hum Reprod 2009, 24:991–999. CrossRef
- Rajkhowa M, McConnell A, Thomas GE: Reasons for discontinuation of IVF treatment: a questionnaire study. Hum Reprod 2006, 21:358–363. CrossRef
- Fanarjian N, Drostin C, Garrett J, Montalvo A: Does the provision of free intrauterine contraception reduce pregnancy rates among uninsured low-income women? A cohort study: a two North Carolina clinics. Contraception 2012, 85:160–165. Epub 2011 Jul 14 CrossRef
- Templeton A, Morris JK, Parslow W: Factors that affect outcome of in-vitro fertilisation treatment. Lancet 1996,348(9039):1402–1406. CrossRef
- Soullier N, Bouyer J, Pouly JL, Guibert J, de La Rochebrochard E: Effect of the woman’s age on discontinuation of IVF treatment. Reprod Biomed Online 2011, 22:496–500. CrossRef
- MacDonald SE, Newburn-Cook CV, Schopflocher D, Richter S: Addressing nonresponse bias in postal surveys. Public Health Nurs 2009, 26:95–105. CrossRef
- Graham JW: Missing data analysis: making it work in the real world. Annu Rev Psychol 2009, 60:549–576. CrossRef
- The pre-publication history for this paper can be accessed here:http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/12/104/prepub
- Who does not participate in a follow-up postal study? a survey of infertile couples treated by in vitro fertilization
- Open Access
- Available under Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
BMC Medical Research Methodology
- Online Date
- July 2012
- Online ISSN
- BioMed Central
- Additional Links
- Postal survey
- Response rate
- Author Affiliations
- 1. INED, 133 boulevard Davout, 75940, Paris Cedex 20, France
- 2. INSERM, Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, CESP U1018, 94276, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France
- 3. Univ Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Service de Santé Publique et Economie de la Santé, 75475, Paris, France
- 4. Laboratoire de Procréation Médicalement Assistée, Institut Mutualiste de Montsouris, 75014, Paris, France
- 5. Univ Paris-Sud, UMRS 1018, 94276, Le Kremlin-Bicêtre, France