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

Rok Seon Choung, G. Richard Locke, Cathy D. Schleck, Jeanette Y. Ziegenfuss, Timothy J. Beebe, Alan R. Zinsmeister, Nicholas J. Talley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

47 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Health (Germany)
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

Keywords

  • Bias
  • Gastrointestinal surveys
  • Population
  • Response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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    Choung, R. S., Locke, G. R., Schleck, C. D., Ziegenfuss, J. Y., Beebe, T. J., Zinsmeister, A. R., & Talley, N. J. (2013). A low response rate does not necessarily indicate non-response bias in gastroenterology survey research: A population-based study. Journal of Public Health (Germany), 21(1), 87-95. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10389-012-0513-z