As address-based sampling becomes increasingly popular for multimode surveys, researchers continue to refine data-collection best practices. While much work has been conducted to improve efficiency within a given mode, additional research is needed on how multimode designs can be optimized across modes. Previous research has not evaluated the consequences of mode sequencing on multimode mail and phone surveys, nor has significant research been conducted to evaluate mode sequencing on a variety of indicators beyond response rates. We conducted an experiment within the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health across the U.S. Risk Factor Survey (REACH U.S.) to evaluate two multimode case-flow designs: (1) phone followed by mail (phone-first) and (2) mail followed by phone (mail-first). We compared response rates, cost, timeliness, and data quality to identify differences across case-flow design. Because surveys often differ on the rarity of the target population, we also examined whether changes in the eligibility rate altered the choice of optimal case flow. Our results suggested that, on most metrics, the mail-first design was superior to the phone-first design. Compared with phone-first, mail-first achieved a higher yield rate at a lower cost with equivalent data quality. While the phone-first design initially achieved more interviews compared to the mail-first design, over time the mail-first design surpassed it and obtained the greatest number of interviews.
WHERE TO START AN EVALUATION OF PRIMARY DATA-COLLECTION MODES IN AN ADDRESS-BASED SAMPLING DESIGN