‘The missing drink’: Nonresponse and data quality in mail surveys on alcohol consumption
Survey research is often used by Dutch authorities and community health services to gain insight in the population’s general health situation. In survey research a random sample of the population is requested to answer a questionnaire, often sent by post. This kind of research is a relatively cheap and quick method of determining a population’s health situation and tracing possible risk groups. Besides these advantages, the survey method also has its drawbacks that may affect research results. For example, low response is one of the threats to the survey method. In the Netherlands (as well as internationally), a trend towards lower response rates can be discerned. Nowadays, a 50% response result can be judged as a high response rate. Non-response constitutes a problem if there is a selection of people who do respond to the survey and those who do not, based on the central research variable. An example would be that only healthy persons would fill in the questionnaire and return the envelope and that ill or disabled persons would give no reaction. As a result of this, based on the survey data, the general population health would be judged better than it actually is. Another threat to the survey method is the quality of self-reports. In self-reports, people report their behaviour by themselves. Frequently, much is demanded from the cognitive process: people must recall distinct behaviour over a certain time span. For example, how often they have drunk alcohol during the last half year. It is questionable to what extent people are able to recall this accurately and to estimate this adequately. Another factor affecting the quality of self-reports is that people are not always willing to give a valid answer. This can be the consequence of feeling ashamed about their own behaviour, and/or people’s inclination to conform to generally accepted norms and values, and to answer in socially accepted ways because of this. In this thesis, the two above-mentioned threats (non-response, and the quality of self-reports) to survey research will be investigated more closely. The rationale for this investigation is that the Addiction Research Institute (Instituut voor verslavingsonderzoek, IVO) has been involved in carrying out several surveys on alcohol and drugs (as part of general population health), and more specifically, problem drinking and related problems.
|Promotor||Garretsen, H.F.L. (Henk)|
|Sponsor||Garretsen, Prof. Dr. H.F.L. (promotor)|
Lahaut, V.M.H.C.J.. (2006, November 22). ‘The missing drink’: Nonresponse and data quality in mail surveys on alcohol consumption. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/8120