Purpose: To compare the characteristics of participants and non-participants in a population-based study of cardiac ventricular function.
Methods: Subjects aged 45 years and older on January 1, 1997 were recruited from a sampling frame of Olmsted County residents from the Rochester Epidemiology Project. Subjects were asked to complete a 17-page questionnaire and participate in a 4-hour clinical examination that included a brief physical examination, echocardiography, spirometry, and an electrocardiogram. With specific IRB approval, the community medical records of participants and non-participants from the first wave of recruitment were examined by trained nurse abstractors to elicit details of past medical history.
Results: Of the first 963 persons invited to participate in the study, 488 (51%) completed all phases of the examination. Participation rates were similar among men and women (53% vs. 49%, respectively). By age, participation rates were lowest among persons aged 75 years and older (44.7% and 34.9%) and 45 to 54 years (45.4% and 44.3%) for men and women. Participation rates were not different according to past history of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, or other cardiovascular disease. Persons with a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were less likely to participate (19.4% vs. 51%; odds ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.18, 0.76) after adjustment for age, sex, and comorbid conditions.
Conclusions: These results provide some reassurance that participation bias in this study may have little influence on its overall findings, although this cannot be conclusive.