• Presentation

Integrating Biological Data Collection and Retaining Survey Subjects in a Longitudinal Workplace Survey


Erickson, L., & Mierzwa, F. (2012, May). Integrating Biological Data Collection and Retaining Survey Subjects in a Longitudinal Workplace Survey. Presented at AAPOR 2012, Orlando, FL.


Large-scale longitudinal surveys that include biological data collection offer a host of unique challenges with interviewer recruitment and training, study implementation, obtaining high participation and retention rates, and collecting high quality data. Solutions must be tailored to the interview setting, study population, and interviewer characteristics. This paper will review specific challenges and successes developed and implemented during multiple waves of data collection for the Work, Family and Health Study (WFHS). Collection is still on-going, with over 9,500 computer-assisted interviews, 5,700 dried blood spot cards, and 13,000 saliva samples collected to date.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formed the Work, Family, and Health Network (WFHN) to address a critical gap in the knowledge base supporting work versus family life policies. The WFHS is a longitudinal study collecting data from individuals in the workplace and in the home, designed to thoroughly assess effects of specific work-family interventions on work-family conflict and health outcomes.

The data collection protocol includes computer-assisted interviews, basic health measures (height, weight, and blood pressure), blood collection (through both dried blood spots and the use of a point-of-care device to obtain an immediate HbA1c reading), and the participant wearing an actigraph watch to record sleep and wake behavior for a week. Interviewers also leave self-administered saliva collection kits with respondents. Information is collected from employees and their supervising managers at baseline and 6, 12, and 18 months post-baseline within two disparate workplace cohorts – a white-collar, high-tech industry and a long-term care industry.

This paper will focus on recruiting and training lay interviewers to collect biomeasures successfully, tailoring the biomeasure collection protocol for a worksite study to improve data quality, and obtaining high response rates while minimizing respondent burden.