Response to a mail nutritional survey in an older bi-racial community population

Ann Epidemiol. 1998 Jul;8(5):342-6. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(97)00236-6.


Purpose: We conducted a pilot study of a mail food frequency questionnaire among a bi-racial sample of 200 persons 65 years and older, selected from participants of an ongoing community study.

Methods: Up to three successive mailings were followed by personal contact with nonresponders. Response to the mail survey was higher in whites (81%) than in blacks (53%). Personal contact was important to achieving high and uniform response (94%) in both racial groups.

Results: Those responding to the mailed questionnaires were also more likely to be older and higher educated. The vast majority of questionnaires returned by mail were complete; 85% had fewer than 15 missing items out of 152 questions.

Conclusions: A mail nutritional survey is a feasible method of dietary assessment in older, white populations, but personal contact with nonresponders may be required for comparable participation among blacks.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Diet
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Whites*