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May 2, 2012

Response Rates and Nonresponse Errors in Surveys

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Survey Research Laboratory, University of Illinois, Chicago (Dr Johnson). Mr Wislar is Survey Research Specialist, JAMA.

JAMA. 2012;307(17):1805-1806. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3532

As perhaps the most well known of all social science methodologies, survey research findings are commonly reported in the professional literature. Indeed, many biomedical journals routinely publish articles that report results from high-quality survey studies. Discerning unbiased survey findings can be challenging, however, to both editors and readers, necessitating some reflection as to the multiple sources of error in surveys and how to assess them. In this Viewpoint, we provide an overview of one of these sources of survey error—nonresponse bias—and briefly consider approaches for estimating, evaluating, and reporting it.

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