The Effects of Introductory Scripts and Respondent Incentives on Overall Participation and Subgroup Participation in an RDD Telephone Survey
Currivan, D., Farrelly, M. C., & Pais, J. M. (2007, May). The Effects of Introductory Scripts and Respondent Incentives on Overall Participation and Subgroup Participation in an RDD Telephone Survey. Presented at American Association for Public Opinion Research Conference, Anaheim, CA.
Introductory scripts have the potential to significantly impact cooperation in RDD surveys. The recent, steady decline in response rates for RDD surveys has increased the importance of the introductory statements conveyed to sampled households at initial contact. A second factor that has been shown to significantly affect response to telephone surveys is the offer of respondent incentives to sampled households. Incentives can generate immediate interest among household members. This paper analyzes results of an experiment conducted as part of an RDD survey, with introductory scripts and respondent incentives as the two experimental factors. The goal of this experiment was to determine how alternative introductory scripts and incentive offers affected participation in a statewide survey on tobacco use, especially among current smokers. This experiment was part of a methodological investigation into an observed decline in smoking prevalence estimates in the New York Adult Tobacco Survey (NY ATS), as compared to the steady prevalence rates observed for the same time period in the New York Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. The two alternative versions of the introductory scripts were the original NY ATS script that highlighted the survey focus on tobacco use, and an alternative script that closely followed the BRFSS protocol and indicated a broader focus on health behaviors. The two incentive conditions tested were no incentive initially offered and an initial offer of $20. These two sets of alternative protocols provided four conditions to which sampled telephone numbers were randomly assigned prior to data collection. The results indicated that the initial offer of an incentive had a significant positive impact on overall response rates and on smokers’ participation rate. Smokers’ participation was also slightly higher in both conditions employing the alternative script compared to the nonincentive condition with the original script, but these differences were not statistically significant.