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Non-response bias in a community survey of drinking, alcohol-related experiences and public opinion on alcohol policy
Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Centre for Alcohol Policy Research; and University of Melbourne, School of Population Health.
2012 (English)In: Drug And Alcohol Dependence, ISSN 0376-8716, E-ISSN 1879-0046, Vol. 126, no 1-2, 189-194 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: The continuing decline in response rates to household surveys is a concern for the health and social sciences as it increases the risk of selective non-response biasing the estimates of interest. Methods: We analysed non-response bias in a postal survey measuring drinking behaviour, experience of harm and opinion on local government alcohol policies among residents in six New Zealand communities. The Continuum of Resistance model, which suggests that late respondents to a survey are most similar to non-respondents on the measures of interest, was used to guide our investigation. Results: Men, younger people, those of M¯aori descent and those living in more deprived areas were less likely to respond to our survey than women, older people, those not of M¯aori descent and those living in comparatively affluent areas. Late respondents more closely resembled non-respondents demo-graphically than early respondents. The prevalence of binge drinking and experience of assault was higher, and support for restrictive local government alcohol policies lower, among late respondents. Assuming the drinking behaviour and alcohol-related experiences of non-respondents were the same as those of late respondents, prevalence was under-estimated by 3.4% (relative difference: 13%) and 2.1% (relative difference: 21%) for monthly binge drinking and assault respectively. Policy support was not over-estimated. Conclusion: The findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that surveys under-estimate risk behaviour because of selective non-response and this bias increases as response rates fall. Notably, public opinion may not be subject to such misestimation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 126, no 1-2, 189-194 p.
Keyword [en]
Non-response bias, Community survey, Alcohol consumption, Alcohol-related harm, Alcohol policy, Public opinion
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-85510DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2012.05.014OAI: diva2:585120
Available from: 2013-01-09 Created: 2013-01-08 Last updated: 2013-02-11Bibliographically approved

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Room, Robin
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