Purpose: Adequate participation in population-based studies in essential to ensure that the sample is representative of the population under investigation. Participants may differ from non-participants on important variables such as age, sex socioeconomic status, and general health factors. The Melbourne Visual Impairment Project (Melbourne VIP) is a population-based study designed to increase understanding of the prevalence and severity of common ocular disorders affecting people 40 years of age and over.
Aim: The aim of this study was to determine the potential for any non-response bias by comparing data from participants and non-participants of the Melbourne VIP.
Methods: Specific demographic and general variables were compared between the two groups. The variables included age, sex, education level, and social status. The reason for non-attendance was also recorded.
Results: A total of 3271 (83%) eligible residents from the 9 sample areas were screened; 46% males and 54% females. Language spoken at home was significantly associated with participation. Residents whose main language at home was not English were less likely to attend the screening centre. (OR: 0.60; CI: 0.44-0.81). The main reasons given for non-attendance by eligible residents were lack of interest (6%), too busy to attend (4%), personal illness (2%), and attend own eye specialist (2%).
Conclusion: We believe these results will not impact significantly on the interpretation of gender and age-specific data from the Melbourne VIP.