International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 57, Issue 6, pp 959–961 | Cite as

Testing Skype as an interview method in epidemiologic research: response and feasibility

  • Tobias WeinmannEmail author
  • Silke Thomas
  • Susanne Brilmayer
  • Sabine Heinrich
  • Katja Radon
Hints & Kinks



Despite its popularity, Skype has not been tested as a tool for epidemiologic research. We examined its feasibility in Germany.


A population-based sample of young adults was randomly invited to a Skype (n = 150) or a phone interview (n = 150). Response and duration of interviews were analysed to evaluate the feasibility of Skype interviews.


Response was low and, with 10 % (95 % CI 5–15 %), even worse among Skype candidates, compared to 22 % (15–28 %) in the phone group. A third of the Skype group asked for being interviewed by phone. Median duration was 34.0 minutes for Skype interviews and 37.0 minutes for phone interviews.


Skype is not yet a feasible tool for data collection in Germany.


Epidemiologic methods Data collection Survey methodology Communication Videoconferencing 



The authors are very grateful to all our MOBI-KIDS partners, especially to Elisabeth Cardis, Siegal Sadetzki, Revital Bruchim, Chelsea Eastman, Laurel Kincl, Martine Vrijheid, Sandra Pla, Maria Saarela, Michael Kundi, Hans Kromhout, Roel Vermeulen, Franco Merletti, Milena Maule, Malcolm Sim, Joe Wiart, and Myron Maslanyi for their dedication to the finalisation of the study questionnaire. We also express our appreciation to Verena Eichel for her commitment to the planning of the pilot study and we thank Carolina Bürger, Carina Dehner, Sebastian Haneder, and Alicja Rogalinska for their support in the fieldwork. Many thanks are also given to Barbara Hartmann for her linguistic adviceThe MOBI-KIDS study is funded by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement 226873- the MOBI-KIDS Project.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The study complies with the current laws of the country in which it was performed.


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Weinmann
    • 1
    Email author
  • Silke Thomas
    • 2
  • Susanne Brilmayer
    • 1
  • Sabine Heinrich
    • 1
  • Katja Radon
    • 1
  1. 1.Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology and NetTeaching Unit, Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental MedicineUniversity Hospital of Munich (LMU)MunichGermany
  2. 2.Medical Advisory Service of Social Health InsuranceEssenGermany

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