Characteristics of respondents to telephone and household cardiovascular disease risk factor surveys
Telephone surveys have been used for years to study a wide variety of topics ranging from public opinions to health information, and they will most likely be an important tool in the planning, conducting and evaluation of community-based health promotion programs designed to accomplish the broad public health goals set forth by the US Government for the year 2000. Many studies have compared the results from telephone and household surveys and found that, for some kinds of information, respondent characteristics and data quality of telephone surveys are similar to those of more time consuming and costly face-to-face household surveys. From March 1989 to May 1990, 1328 adults from Pawtucket, RI were interviewed either in person or by telephone about cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related risk factors, behaviours and knowledge, as well as selected demographic characteristics. Demographic characteristics of respondents to the two surveys were quite similar except for race, which differed significantly between the two surveys. Some self-reported CVD-related characteristics were similar between the two surveys (smoking, history of high blood pressure or cholesterol and self-rated blood pressure or cholesterol compared with others of similar age and sex), while others were not (CVD knowledge index, body mass index, prevalence of obesity, blood pressure, prevalence of hypertension and physical activity). With careful attention to the limitations of telephone surveys, this survey method can confidently be applied to the evaluation of other health promotion programs thus allowing more extensive data collection at less cost.