Effect of reminders on mitigating participation bias in a case-control study
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK
BMC Medical Research Methodology 2011, 11:33 doi:10.1186/1471-2288-11-33Published: 31 March 2011
Researchers commonly employ strategies to increase participation in health studies. These include use of incentives and intensive reminders. There is, however, little evidence regarding the quantitative effect that such strategies have on study results. We present an analysis of data from a case-control study of Campylobacter enteritis in England to assess the usefulness of a two-reminder strategy for control recruitment.
We compared sociodemographic characteristics of participants and non-participants, and calculated odds ratio estimates for a wide range of risk factors by mailing wave.
Non-participants were more often male, younger and from more deprived areas. Among participants, early responders were more likely to be female, older and live in less deprived areas, but despite these differences, we found little evidence of a systematic bias in the results when using data from early reponders only.
We conclude that the main benefit of using reminders in our study was the gain in statistical power from a larger sample size.