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Open Access Research article

Successful strategies for high participation in three regional healthcare surveys: an observational study

Kristen R Elkins1*, Christopher M Nguyen1, Diane S Kim1, Hildy Meyers2, Michele Cheung2 and Susan S Huang1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Infectious Diseases and Health Policy Research Institute, University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Orange, California, USA

2 Department of Epidemiology and Assessment, Orange County Healthcare Agency, Santa Ana, California, USA

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BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:176  doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-176

Published: 30 December 2011



Regional healthcare facility surveys to quantitatively assess nosocomial infection rates are important for confirming standardized data collection and assessing health outcomes in the era of mandatory reporting. This is particularly important for the assessment of infection control policies and healthcare associated infection rates among hospitals. However, the success of such surveys depends upon high participation and representativeness of respondents.


This descriptive paper provides methodologies that may have contributed to high participation in a series of administrative, infection control, and microbiology laboratory surveys of all 31 hospitals in a large southern California county. We also report 85% (N = 72) countywide participation in an administrative survey among nursing homes in this same area.


Using in-person recruitment, 48% of hospitals and nursing homes were recruited within one quarter, with 75% recruited within three quarters.


Potentially useful strategies for successful recruitment included in-person recruitment, partnership with the local public health department, assurance of anonymity when presenting survey results, and provision of staff labor for the completion of detailed survey tables on the rates of healthcare associated pathogens. Data collection assistance was provided for three-fourths of surveys. High compliance quantitative regional surveys require substantial recruitment time and study staff support for high participation.