Evaluating survey quality in health services research: a decision framework for assessing nonresponse bias

Health Serv Res. 2013 Jun;48(3):913-30. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12002. Epub 2012 Oct 10.


Objective: To address the issue of nonresponse as problematic and offer appropriate strategies for assessing nonresponse bias.

Study design: A review of current strategies used to assess the quality of survey data and the challenges associated with these strategies is provided along with appropriate post-data collection techniques that researchers should consider.

Principal findings: Response rates are an incomplete assessment of survey data quality, and quick reactions to response rate should be avoided. Based on a five-question decision making framework, we offer potential ways to assess nonresponse bias, along with a description of the advantages and disadvantages to each.

Conclusions: It is important that the quality of survey data be considered to assess the relative contribution to the literature of a given study. Authors and funding agencies should consider the potential effects of nonresponse bias both before and after survey administration and report the results of assessments of nonresponse bias in addition to response rates.

MeSH terms

  • Bias*
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Data Collection / standards
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Research Design / standards
  • Surveys and Questionnaires