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Open Access Research article

Comparison of participants and non-participants to the ORISCAV-LUX population-based study on cardiovascular risk factors in Luxembourg

Ala'a Alkerwi1*, Nicolas Sauvageot1, Sophie Couffignal1, Adelin Albert2, Marie-Lise Lair1 and Michèle Guillaume2

Author Affiliations

1 Centre de Recherche Public de la Santé, Centre d'Etudes en Santé, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg

2 School of Public Health, University of Liège, Belgium

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2010, 10:80  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-10-80

Published: 7 September 2010

Abstract

Background

Poor response is a major concern in public health surveys. In a population-based ORISCAV-LUX study carried out in Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg to assess the cardiovascular risk factors, the non-response rate was not negligible. The aims of the present work were: 1) to investigate the representativeness of study sample to the general population, and 2) to compare the known demographic and cardiovascular health-related profiles of participants and non-participants.

Methods

For sample representativeness, the participants were compared to the source population according to stratification criteria (age, sex and district of residence). Based on complementary information from the "medical administrative database", further analysis was carried out to assess whether the health status affected the response rate. Several demographic and morbidity indicators were used in the univariate comparison between participants and non-participants.

Results

Among the 4452 potentially eligible subjects contacted for the study, there were finally 1432 (32.2%) participants. Compared to the source population, no differences were found for gender and district distribution. By contrast, the youngest age group was under-represented while adults and elderly were over-represented in the sample, for both genders. Globally, the investigated clinical profile of the non-participants was similar to that of participants. Hospital admission and cardiovascular health-related medical measures were comparable in both groups even after controlling for age. The participation rate was lower in Portuguese residents as compared to Luxembourgish (OR = 0.58, 95% CI: 0.48-0.69). It was also significantly associated with the professional status (P < 0.0001). Subjects from the working class were less receptive to the study than those from other professional categories.

Conclusion

The 32.2% participation rate obtained in the ORISCAV-LUX survey represents the realistic achievable rate for this type of multiple-stage, nationwide, population-based surveys. It corresponds to the expected rate upon which the sample size was calculated. Given the absence of discriminating health profiles between participants and non-participants, it can be concluded that the response rate does not invalidate the results and allows generalizing the findings for the population.