ESRA 2019 Draft Programme at a Glance


Collecting, Editing, Publishing and Improving Data on Hard-to-Reach Populations in Surveys 2

Session Organisers Professor Stephanie Steinmetz (University of Amsterdam)
Dr Oliver Lipps (FORS)
Dr Brian Kleiner (FORS)
Mrs Jennifer Allen (Robert Koch-Institut)
Mr Johannes Lemcke (Robert Koch-Institut)
TimeFriday 19th July, 11:00 - 12:30
Room D02

When surveying the general population the preferences, aspirations, or needs of the public as a whole should be revealed and every individual’s position should have the chance to be represented equally. Underlying this aim lies the notion of an observed sample as a representative, unbiased, and sufficiently precise reflection of an underlying (unobserved) population of interest of a study. Besides decreasing response rates, population-based surveys are facing additional challenges. One of them deals with the important aspect of how to access hard-to-reach populations. Frequently hard-to-reach populations are for instance, immigrants, refugees or ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, the elderly, the disabled, homeless people, children or households living in poverty, nomads, etc. The literature shows that hard-to-reach populations are not accurately represented in general population surveys. There are, systematically, higher non-response rates in cross-sectional surveys due to fewer contacts and more refusals as well as higher attrition rates in longitudinal surveys. The underlying mechanisms for the underrepresentation of those populations are more nuanced; they might be related to the fact that those populations are hard-to-sample, hard-to-identify, hard-to-find or to-contact, hard-to-persuade to participate and/or hard-to-interview (Tourangeau 2014). However, the consequence of the underrepresentation is that the survey is biased and that it may be difficult to estimate reliable and unbiased parameters for those populations. Besides general population surveys, the demand for surveys addressing special groups of the population (such as sexual minorities, refugees, sex workers, physically handicapped people etc.) has increased. However, those surveys come with particular requirements when it comes to sampling- and survey-design.
In this session, we would like to discuss the current situation of hard-to-reach population research in various national and international contexts as well as practical requirements and problems. This session invites contributions showcasing research around the challenges, successes, innovations and best practices when collecting, editing, and publishing data on hard-to-reach / vulnerable populations in surveys. We suggest but do not limit the session to the following aspects:
• Data quality
• Sample frame and coverage issues
• Sampling procedures, problems of accessibility
• Locating, contacting, and recruiting hard-to reach populations
• Unit- and item-nonresponse
• Interview modes
• New technologies and techniques in data collection
• Question properties and response sets
• Interviewer-Respondent interaction and interviewer effect
• Role of memory in rendering certain groups less visible to research

Keywords: hard-to-reach populations, underrepresentation, minorities

Returnees as a Hard-to-Reach Population: Lessons Learned from the TEMPER Surveys

Dr Inmaculada Serrano Sanguilinda (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC))
Dr Amparo Gonzalez Ferrer (Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)) - Presenting Author

Returnees are a statistically rare population: while migrants are always a minority of the population in origin countries, returnees are an even more selected minority. Furthermore, the available data sources have serious limitations to identify this population. We will discuss some of the limitations of censuses, population registers, general population surveys and specialized migration surveys to identify and/or draw representative samples of returnees. We will then discuss common and context-specific challenges for surveying returnees in their origin countries building on the experience and results of the TEMPER Origin Surveys.

The TEMPER surveys were carried out in Argentina, Romania, Senegal, and Ukraine, four different cultural contexts with different migration histories and legal regimes vis-à-vis access to EU territory. From this comparative perspective we will discuss challenges in three main dimensions:
• Identification of the population and sampling design: the lack of adequate international definitions and local sample frames create well-known challenges to sampling design. Some solutions include more encompassing definitions (e.g. short-term migration and return) and allowing mixed methods of recruitment (e.g. use of social media in order to reach specific profiles or complement numeric targets) and interviewing (e.g. using Skype to conduct interviews at distance)
• Difficulties to find and contact returnees: eligibility criteria (including, for instance, country and period of migration) make the recruitment process cumbersome. Moreover, we still know little about the memory and social biases that may influence who is referred and who is not (e.g. more recent vs long-term returnees) as a returnee. We also know little about returnees’ social connectivity, particularly across different contexts.
• Returnees as hard-to-persuade and/or hard-to-interview: cultural issues may interfere with the desirability of being identified as a returnee, and with particular topics that may be touched upon during the interview.


Integration of Migrant Populations into Health Monitoring in Germany. Results from a Feasibility Study

Mrs Marie-Luise Zeisler (Robert Koch Institute) - Presenting Author
Mr Johannes Lemcke (Robert Koch Institute)
Mrs Leman Bilgic (Robert Koch Institute)
Mr Claudia Santos-Hövener (Robert Koch Institute)
Mr Patrick Schmich (Robert Koch Institute)

Background: Over the last years Germany has become one of the most popular migration destinations in the world. It is therefore important to collect reliable data on migrants’ health. To improve inclusion of migrant populations in German Health Monitoring, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has launched the project Improving Health Monitoring in Migrant Populations (IMIRA). One of the project’s aims was to test different recruitment strategies to increase participation of people with migration background (PMB) in national health interview surveys.
Methods: A multilingual feasibility study was conducted between January and May 2018 in two German federal states. A sample from population registers was used. The target populations were persons with Turkish, Polish, Romanian, Syrian and Croatian citizenship living in Germany (n=9,068). Age and gender strata were applied. Multilingual online questionnaires, a multilingual study hotline and home visits with bilingual interviewers were offered in a sequential mixed-mode design. To evaluate usability and effectiveness an experimental design was applied for Turkish and Syrian migrants.
Results: Overall response rate was 15.9% (n=1,190). Response rate differences between the groups were statistically significant (χ²= 218.58; p=0.00), ranging from 8.6% in the Turkish to 24.3% in the Syrian group. Little differences between the groups were found concerning the use of the different modes of participation, but the home visits led to a remarkable increase (+5.4% in the Turkish group; +7.3% in the Syrian group). The majority of respondents (57.1%) used the translated questionnaire. This finding is related with lower age, lower educational level and poorer subjective health status.
Conclusion: The response rates of PMB can be increased by personal contact. A multilingual questionnaire showed to be effective to reach PMB with lower educational level and poorer subjective health conditions. The results will be implemented in further health monitoring at RKI.


Sampling Migrant People: Challenges Arising from Their State of Immigrants and Isolated Workers

Dr Federica Zaccagnini (University of Padua) - Presenting Author
Dr Francesca Alice Vianello (University of Padua)

Immigrants can be a typical example of “hard-to-reach” or, and “hidden” population. «⦋…⦌Because of their particular circumstances, it is difficult to generate a sampling frame from which to gather a representative sample from these populations. In addition, migrants are sometimes stigmatized or are in irregular administrative situations, which, in turn, makes them difficult to access and unwilling to participate in research efforts.» (Johnston and Malekinejad,2014).A large body of literature explains that “accessing such populations is difficult because standard probability sampling methods produce low response rates and that lack candor”(Heckathorn, 1997),and shows that “rigid adherence to conventional procedures simply cannot serve researchers engaged in the study of such population” (Watters and Biernacki, 1989).For such reasons, particularly in the last thirty years, many authors have proposed new approaches to study “hard-to-reach” or, and “hidden” population in order to overcome such limitations. In particular, many methodologies have been developed by authors that systematically mix qualitative and quantitative research and different no probabilistic sampling strategies. In this paper, we will review the literature on hidden and hard-to-reach population, starting from the need to re-think these categories and apply them on an migration context.Our topic came to light from an on-going research on health at work of Moldovan women living in Padua city (Italy). This case is particularly interesting for this methodological research because Moldovan women, although in their vast majority are in regular immigration position (Moldovans are prevalently documented), most of them work as domestic workers in private houses for 24 hours at day, with a few free hours per week. We will focus on explain how we built a representative no-probabilistic sample, the approach to recruit respondents and make them answer to questionnaire with candor.


Seeking Suitable Approach for Collecting Ethnic Sensitive Data: The Case of Roma Minority in the Czech Republic.

Ms Ivana Simikova (Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs) - Presenting Author
Mr Matous Jelinek (Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs; Faculty of Social Studies Masaryk University)

In 2015, the Czech government has adopted the Strategy of Roma integration up to 2020, as well as Methodology of the Strategy’s monitoring and assessment. The strategy includes public policy goals, as well as some measures to achieve them. The methodology also includes indicators to measure an improvement of achieving the political goals. Unfortunately, neither goals nor measurements fulfill evidence-based policy and data for their assessment through monitoring indicators are not available. For this reason, the Czech government asked the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs to analyze suitable approaches to ethnic data collection in EU members and to propose methodology of collecting Roma ethnicity sensitive data in CZ. While tackling the issue we have realized, among others, that government-controlled statistical surveys such as Census or EU-SILC, which are used for similar purposes in other countries, are not completely suitable for our purpose. We found out that especially methodological and statistical (analytical) problems exceeds the issue of individual ethnic identification. Our findings contribute to ongoing international discussions about validity, reliability, and representativity (sampling errors) of construction ethnic groups in surveys, as Roma ethnic group in the Czech Republic in our case. We will also demonstrate the specificity of the position of Roma ethnic group in CZ and how it affects the process of ethnic-sensitive data collection. We will present and discuss features of currently developing specific participative approach supplementary to the contemporary practice of collecting basic data regarding Roma ethnic minority in the Czech Republic.