Increasing cell phone usage among Hispanics: implications for telephone surveys

Am J Public Health. 2012 Jun;102(6):e19-24. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300681. Epub 2012 Apr 19.


Objectives: We examined whether the widespread assumption that Hispanics are subject to greater noncoverage bias in landline telephone surveys because they are more likely than other ethnic groups to use cell phones exclusively was supported by data.

Methods: Data came from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey and the 2009 California Health Interview Survey. We considered estimates derived from surveys of adults with landline telephones biased and compared them with findings for all adults. Noncoverage bias was the difference between them, examined separately for Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites.

Results: Differences in demographic and health characteristics between cell-only and landline users were larger for non-Hispanic Whites than Hispanics; cell usage was much higher for Hispanics than non-Hispanic Whites. The existence, pattern, and magnitude of noncoverage bias were comparable between the groups.

Conclusions: We found no evidence to support a larger noncoverage bias for Hispanics than non-Hispanic Whites in landline telephone surveys. This finding should be considered in the design and interpretation of telephone surveys.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Bias
  • California
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Health Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / standards
  • Male
  • United States
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult