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Friday 17th July, 09:00 - 10:30 Room: O-202

Effects of respondent incentives in Health Interview Surveys. Differences according to survey modes, incentive strategies and incentive values 2

Convenor Dr Elena Von Der Lippe (Robert Koch Institute )
Coordinator 1Mr Patrick Schmich (Robert Koch Insitute)
Coordinator 2Mr Matthias Wetzstein (Robert Koch Institute)

Session Details

Respondent incentives as one possible mean of raising response rates is broadly used in social science. It is often reported that the respondent incentives have different impact on various sub-population groups under study. Also, incentive effects vary according to the survey modes and strategies applied. Research shows that the value of the respondent incentives has to be well considered, as not always higher values lead to higher response rates.
The aim of this session is to gather and exchange experiences in applying incentive strategies in health interview surveys and also other population based surveys. One of the sample biases that are often faced in health interview surveys is the higher participation of respondents with high education level. Applying any incentive strategy would aim at reaching the population that otherwise is not willing to participate in health interview surveys.
We would like to welcome presentations dealing with the application of any kind of incentive strategies in health interview surveys, regardless of the survey mode used. In particular, we are interested in reporting: what kind of incentive strategies (e.g. monetary or non-monetary) show significant effects on the response rates; did the incentives have the same effects for different sub-population groups (e.g. urban/rural, young/old population); did the usage of incentives lead also to a better sample composition and reduction in the sample bias; what incentive strategies and values are balancing best between costs and effects?

Paper Details

1. The impact of unconditional incentives on cooperation rates among non-responders in a mixed mode panel study
Dr Katherine A. Mcgonagle (University of Michigan)
Dr Vicki A. Freedman (University of Michigan)

The results of an experiment examining the impact of unconditional incentives on cooperation rates in a mixed mode supplement to a national panel study are described. Sample members are respondents in the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics who were invited to participate in a mixed mode study about childhood experiences. At the end of the study, non-responders were randomly assigned to receive a final request for participation that included either $5, $10, or no incentive. The study describes the impact of the incentive and incentive amounts on participation by mode and key characteristics of panel members.

2. Survey incentives in the context of a developing country. The impact of amount and conditionality on response rate and data quality
Professor Bart Meuleman (University of Leuven)
Professor Arnim Langer (University of Leuven)

The usefulness of cash incentives to increase survey participation has been widely evidenced. Most of the available research, however, was conducted in a western context. In this paper, we report on an incentives experiment that was implemented in the National Service Scheme Survey (N3S) in Ghana. In the N3S, respondents were given an incentive in the form of mobile phone credit or so-called ‘top-up’. Participants were randomized over six different incentive conditions (5, 10 or 20 Ghanaian Cedis; conditional vs. unconditional). We discuss the impact of incentives on unit and item non-response, response times and measurement errors.

3. Experiments on the Effectiveness of Non-Monetary Incentives in Longitudinal and Cross-Sectional Physician Surveys
Dr Paul Beatty (U.S. Census Bureau)
Dr Eric Jamoom (U.S. National Center for Health Statistics)
Mr Ian Lundberg (Harvard University)

Convincing physicians to participate in surveys can be difficult, and the effectiveness of incentives on this population is inconsistent. This paper reports on a series of experiments on the effectiveness of a high-quality pen as an incentive. Consistently, this incentive significantly increased response rates, and just as importantly, encouraged earlier responding which reduced costs. Embedding these experiments within a longitudinal survey permitted several additional analyses, including whether the pen effect varied based upon past responding behavior and key substantive variables. Experiments also explored the effects of providing multiple pens, and the effectiveness of the pen on different questionnaire lengths.

4. Determining a Cost-Effective Incentive Amount for Surveying Physicians
Dr Timothy Beebe (Mayo Clinic)
Dr Jeanette Ziegenfuss (HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research)
Dr Jon Tilburt (Mayo Clinic)

It is generally accepted that monetary incentives increase response rates in physician surveys but there remains little consensus on the optimal amount. In this paper, we report the results of qualitative and quantitative investigations of the latter topic recently conducted at the Mayo Clinic in the U.S. We conclude that a $10 incentive should be considered for physician populations given the tradeoffs between quality and cost. However, the results of our formative, qualitative work, suggest that monetary incentives of much higher amounts are expected by physicians. We describe a planned study that includes a broader range of incentive amounts.