Phone Surveys: Introductions and Response Rates

Living reference work entry


As web surveys increase in popularity, the focus in the research industry on telephone surveys continues to decline. However, phone surveys are far from becoming extinct. Limited Internet access among certain populations (including older and lower income groups) makes telephone a preferred methodology when broad cross-sections of a population need to be reached, such as in the health research arena, where large-scale surveys such as the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFS), California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), and the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) rely on telephone surveys. An understudied but critical component of phone surveys is the introduction. Introductions that are effective at convincing sample members to participate can help to improve shrinking response rates in this mode. These declining response rates have the potential to contribute to nonresponse error, and interviewers contribute differentially to nonresponse. Why do some telephone interviewers have better response rates than others? What are key speech and vocal characteristics of interviewers that help their performance, and how can these characteristics be implemented in practice? This chapter will review existing literature on telephone survey introductions, examine components of an ideal introduction, and conclude with suggestions for effective interviewer training in this area.


Telephone Interviewer Nonresponse Response rates Survey Voice Speech 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jessica Broome Research / University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.SanfordUSA

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