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Follow-up Surveys of Nonrespondents

Mail Follow-up Survey

Over the past few years, states have conducted pilot tests to determine whether mail surveys are practical as follow-up methods for households that do not respond to the BRFSS landline telephone survey. In 2012, 10 states participated in one such pilot test by contacting nonresponding households/selected individuals by mail. The protocol for the follow-up mail survey was initiated after telephone protocols were completed and nonresponding households were matched to addresses using landline telephone numbers. The participating states were required to collect a minimum of 300 responses in order to allow for statistical comparisons of respondents. A protocol for mailings and a standardized cover letter were provided to the participating states by the BRFSS. States were also provided a standardized format for the questionnaire itself, which could be modified to allow for state seals or other headers on the page, but which also allowed for consistency in format among the participating states. The BRFSS core questions were included in the questionnaire, but no optional modules or state questions were added. Findings for the mail follow-up pilot will be analyzed to determine the cost effectiveness of this process for use with the BRFSS in future years.

Web-based Follow-up Survey

In 2012—and continuing in 2013—the BRFSS conducted cognitive tests of a Web-based application of the BRFSS core questions designed as a follow-up for households that did not respond to the landline telephone survey. States participated in the cognitive test by sending out postcards/letters to nonresponding households and/or selected respondents; the materials directed recipients to the test Web site. Seven states agreed to participate in the pilot test in 2012; six states are participating in 2013. Only those landline telephone numbers matched to addresses are included in the study, as protocols require a mailing for each nonresponding household; addresses cannot be matched to cell phone numbers. Respondents were able to login using a unique ID provided to them in the invitational postcards/letters. In 2012, approximately 1,300 respondents completed the online survey.

Findings from the Web-based surveys will be analyzed in 2013 to determine the feasibility of continuing to contact nonrespondents using these methods.

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