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.