Background Increasing availability of the Internet allows using only online data

Background Increasing availability of the Internet allows using only online data collection for more epidemiological studies. For validation of the differential response patterns between mixed-mode and online-only, we compared the response patterns between paper and online mode among the respondents in the mixed-mode group in one region (n?=?786). Results Respondents in the online-only group were older than those in the mixed-mode group, but both groups did not differ regarding sex or education. Type of response did not differ between the online-only and the mixed-mode group. Survey design was associated with different content of response in 18 of the 134 investigated items; which decreased to 11 after adjusting for sociodemographic variables. In the validation within the mixed-mode, only two of those were among the 11 significantly different items. The probability of observing by chance the same two or more significant differences in this setting was 22%. Conclusions We found comparable response patterns in both survey designs with only few items being answered differently, likely attributable to chance. Our study supports the equivalence of the compared survey designs and suggests that, in the analyzed setting, using online-only design does not cause strong distortion of the results. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12982-017-0058-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users. Keywords: Bias, Health survey, Internet, Longitudinal study, Mixed-mode, Online, Panel study, Participation, Response Background The increased buy Rapamycin (Sirolimus) availability of the Internet stimulates the establishment of epidemiological studies relying solely on buy Rapamycin (Sirolimus) online data collection [1]. Recruitment for online studies can rely on either probability or convenience sampling, whereby the latter has the advantage of being able to access large sample sizes [2], but the disadvantage of limited generalizability: convenience samples recruited via Mouse monoclonal to APOA4 the Internet have been shown to be less representative of the population that they were drawn from [2C4]. Random (probability) sampling offers a way to decrease selection bias and to increase generalisability because each individual in the sampling frame has a predefined chance of being sampled [4]. Relying solely on online data collection has obvious advantages with respect to costs and effort [5, 6], but carries the risk of low participation and a biased selection of study participants [7]. Previous research indicated that participation can be increased by using mixed-mode surveys compared to online-only surveys [5, 8]. Several studies investigated how responses differed between online and non-online responders within mixed-mode surveys [9C12]. They showed that preferred survey mode was linked to sociodemographic factors; once adjusted for those baseline differences, the majority of differential responses disappeared [11, 12]. However, these comparisons do not encompass the situation where only one mode of data collection is offered, and those willing to participate are forced to use it. Only few studies compared such single-mode studies with mixed-mode studies regarding response patterns. They compared mixed-mode (paper and online) with single-mode studies (computer-assisted, face-to-face or telephone interviews) [13, 14]. Up to now, no study included comparisons of response patterns in online data collection with response patterns in a mixed-mode survey. Also, most published studies considered only a single thematic focus. A further limitation of previous studies is the lack of buy Rapamycin (Sirolimus) adjustment for multiple screening, potentially overestimating the true differences between data collection modes. Study aim and research questions We required advantage of a large population-based, longitudinal panel covering a range of epidemiological research questions. Our main study aim was to compare response patterns between an online-only and a mixed-mode survey design. To achieve this aim, we proceeded in several actions. First, we investigated if applying online-only data collection prospects to selection of participants, i.e. if the composition of participants in online-only data collection differs from that in a mixed-mode study offering choice between online and paper-and-pencil questionnaires. To explore this issue, we buy Rapamycin (Sirolimus) investigated the following questions: Do response rates differ between online-only survey and mixed-mode survey (overall and stratified by age)? Do sociodemographic characteristics differ between participants of the online-only survey and the mixed-mode survey? We also looked at sociodemographic characteristics within the mixed-mode group because we hypothesised that differences between groups of participants would be more pronounced between modes of data collection within the mixed-mode group than between the survey designs. Thus, we investigated the question: 3. Do sociodemographic characteristics.

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