Random digit dialling and Electronic White Pages samples compared: Demographic profiles and health estimates

David H. Wilson, Gary J. Starr, Anne W. Taylor, Eleonora Dal Grande

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    Objective: To compare the methodologies of and health estimates derived from two telephone household survey methods. In particular, to establish if White Pages telephone listings provide a relatively unbiased sampling frame for population health surveys. Method: In South Australia in 1998, a health survey questionnaire was administered by telephone to two randomly selected population samples. The first method used EWP (Electronic White Pages, n = 6,012), which contains all listed residential telephone numbers as the sampling frame. The results were compared to a RDD (random digit dialling, n = 3,080) sample where all listed and unlisted telephone numbers were included in the sampling frame. Demographic variables and health estimates were compared between the surveys, and then compared to a 'gold standard' door-to-door household survey conducted concurrently. Results: The response rate for EWP (83.8%) exceeded that of RDD (65.4%). More than four times as many calls were required per completed interview in RDD. Demographic profiles and health estimates were substantially similar. Conclusions: EWP requires fewer telephone calls and enables approach letters establishing the bona fides of the survey to be sent to each selected address before calling, increasing the response rate. RDD is a more inclusive sampling frame but also includes non-connected and business numbers, and offers no significant advantages in providing health estimates. Implications: There are substantial methodological and cost advantages in using EWP over RDD as the sampling frame for population health surveys, without introducing significant bias into health estimates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)627-633
    Number of pages7
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1999

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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