Journal of Public Health

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 87–95 | Cite as

A low response rate does not necessarily indicate non-response bias in gastroenterology survey research: a population-based study

  • Rok Seon Choung
  • G. Richard LockeIII
  • Cathy D. Schleck
  • Jeanette Y. Ziegenfuss
  • Timothy J. Beebe
  • Alan R. Zinsmeister
  • Nicholas J. Talley
Original Article

Abstract

Aim

To estimate the potential for response bias in standard mailed questionnaires used in surveys of GI symptoms in a community.

Subjects and methods

Validated self-report tools have been developed to measure functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders but response rates in community surveys have been rapidly declining in many parts of the world. Whether a lower community response rate introduces significant response bias in GI survey research is unknown. A questionnaire was mailed to a total of 5,069 randomly selected subjects. The overall response rate was 52 %. A random sample of 723 of these subjects (428 responders and 295 non-responders, stratified by age and gender) was selected for medical record abstraction (including both inpatient and outpatient history).

Results

The odds for response increased in those with a higher body mass index (odds ratio (OR):1.02 [95 % CI: 1.01, 1.03]), more health care seeking behavior for non-GI problems (OR: 1.97 [95 % CI: 1.43, 2.72]), and for those who had responded to a previous survey (OR: 4.84 [95 % CI: 2.84, 8.26]). Responder status was not significantly associated with any GI symptoms or a diagnosis of GI or non-GI disease (with two exceptions, diverticulosis and skin disease).

Conclusions

Despite a response rate of only 52 %, the results of a community-based GI survey do not appear to be impacted by non-response bias in a major way. A low survey response rate does not necessarily indicate non-response bias.

Keywords

Response Bias Gastrointestinal surveys Population 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rok Seon Choung
    • 1
    • 5
  • G. Richard LockeIII
    • 1
  • Cathy D. Schleck
    • 2
  • Jeanette Y. Ziegenfuss
    • 3
  • Timothy J. Beebe
    • 3
  • Alan R. Zinsmeister
    • 2
  • Nicholas J. Talley
    • 4
  1. 1.Enteric Neuroscience Program, Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biomedical Statistics and InformaticsMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Division of Health Care Policy and ResearchMayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Faculty of HealthUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  5. 5.Division of Gastroenterology and HepatologyCollege of Medicine, Korea UniversitySeoulKorea

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