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A Comparison of Address-Based Sampling (ABS) Versus Random-Digit-Dialing (RDD) for General Population Surveys.

Michael W. Link, Michael P. Battaglia, Martin R. Frankel, Larry Osborn, and Ali H. Mokdad


February 7, 2008
Valid and reliable public health data are becoming more difficult to obtain through random-digit dial (RDD) telephone surveys. As a result, researchers are evaluating different survey designs (i.e., sampling frame and survey mode combinations) as complements or alternatives to RDD. Traditionally, mail surveys of the general public have been limited due to a lack of a complete sampling frame of households. Recent advances in electronic record keeping, however, have allowed researchers to develop a sample from a frame of addresses (e.g., the U.S. Postal Service Delivery Sequence File, which appears to provide coverage which rivals or possibly exceeds that obtained through RDD sampling methods). To test the use of this frame for surveying adults aged 18 years and older across a wide geographic area, a pilot study was conducted as part of the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). The pilot compared use of a traditional, RDD telephone survey methodology to an approach using a mail version of the questionnaire completed by a random sample of households drawn from an address-based frame. The findings indicate that the mail survey approach can achieve higher response rates in low-response-rate states (<40%) than RDD (particularly when two mailings are sent). Additionally, the address frame with mail survey design provides access to cell phone only households and offers cost savings over the telephone approach. The resulting sample, however, significantly overrepresents non-Hispanic whites and people with higher levels of education.

North America