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Int J Child Health Hum Dev. 2011;4(2):225-231.

Do young adults participate in surveys that 'go green'? Response rates to a web and mailed survey of weight-related health behaviors.

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Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN.


There is a paucity of research regarding the contextual factors that influence health behaviors to inform the development of programs and services for youth during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. Researchers are thus in need of efficient strategies for surveying diverse populations of young adults. This study among a population-based sample of young adults aimed to 1) examine response to a mixed-mode survey design (web and mailed surveys) and 2) identify demographic correlates of response mode. Young adults who participated in previous study waves were invited to participate in the third wave of a 10-year longitudinal study (Project EAT-III: 2008-2009) examining factors associated with weight-related behaviors. Participants were mailed invitation letters providing the web address and a unique password for completing the survey. Nonresponders were mailed three reminder invitations; the third mailing included the paper form, and all other mailings included a postage-paid card for requesting the paper form. Most completed surveys (82.1% of n=2,287) were returned by respondents within the first four months of fielding prior to the mailing which included the paper form. Nearly all of these early responders (92.6% of n=1,878) and 86.5% of the full respondent sample (n=1,979 of 2,287) completed the web form. Response to the web versus mailed paper form of the survey was associated with age >25 years, higher socioeconomic status, current employment, student status, and having no children. The combination of web and mailed survey modes is an effective strategy for conducting data collection in demographically diverse, young adult populations.

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