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Successive Wave Analysis to Assess Nonresponse Bias in a Statewide Random Sample Testing Study for SARS-CoV-2.

Duszynski TJ, Fadel W, Dixon BE, Yiannoutsos C, Halverson PK, Menachemi N. Successive Wave Analysis to Assess Nonresponse Bias in a Statewide Random Sample Testing Study for SARS-CoV-2. Journal of public health management and practice : JPHMP. 2022 Jul 1; 28(4):E685-E691.

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INTRODUCTION: Nonresponse bias occurs when participants in a study differ from eligible nonparticipants in ways that can distort study conclusions. The current study uses successive wave analysis, an established but underutilized approach, to assess nonresponse bias in a large-scale SARS-CoV-2 prevalence study. Such an approach makes use of reminders to induce participation among individuals. Based on the response continuum theory, those requiring several reminders to participate are more like nonrespondents than those who participate in a study upon first invitation, thus allowing for an examination of factors affecting participation. METHODS: Study participants from the Indiana Population Prevalence SARS-CoV-2 Study were divided into 3 groups (eg, waves) based upon the number of reminders that were needed to induce participation. Independent variables were then used to determine whether key demographic characteristics as well as other variables hypothesized to influence study participation differed by wave using chi-square analyses. Specifically, we examined whether race, age, gender, education level, health status, tobacco behaviors, COVID-19-related symptoms, reasons for participating in the study, and SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates differed by wave. RESULTS: Respondents included 3658 individuals, including 1495 in wave 1 (40.9%), 1246 in wave 2 (34.1%), and 917 in wave 3 (25%), for an overall participation rate of 23.6%. No significant differences in any examined variables were observed across waves, suggesting similar characteristics among those needing additional reminders compared with early participants. CONCLUSIONS: Using established techniques, we found no evidence of nonresponse bias in a random sample with a relatively low response rate. A hypothetical additional wave of participants would be unlikely to change original study conclusions. Successive wave analysis is an effective and easy tool that can allow public health researchers to assess, and possibly adjust for, nonresponse in any epidemiological survey that uses reminders to encourage participation.

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