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J Surg Res. 2018 Apr;224:112-120. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.11.058. Epub 2017 Dec 22.

Nonresponse bias in survey research: lessons from a prospective study of breast reconstruction.

Author information

1
Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
2
Center for Statistical Consultation and Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Department of Biostatistics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
3
Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York.
4
Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Electronic address: ewilkins@med.umich.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Survey-based research is essential for evaluating the outcomes of health care in an era of patient-centered care. However, many such studies are hampered by poor response rates in completion of study questionnaires, thus limiting the generalizability of any findings. The objectives of this analysis were to identify independent variables associated with nonresponse to surveys following breast reconstruction to improve future patient-reported outcomes research.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

The Mastectomy Reconstruction Outcomes Consortium is a prospective cohort study involving 11 leading medical centers from the United States and Canada. Nonresponse rates for surveys assessing satisfaction with breast, satisfaction with care (BREAST-Q), depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7) were measured at 1 y and 2 y postoperatively. Clinical complication rates were compared between responders and nonresponders, and multivariable models were used to assess predictors of nonresponse.

RESULTS:

Among 2856 women in the analytic cohort, 1882 (65.9%) underwent implant-based, 817 (28.6%) received autologous, and 157 (5.5%) underwent latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap breast reconstructions. Nonresponse rates to surveys at 1 y and 2 y were 27.8% and 34.4%, respectively. Race, ethnicity, and annual household income were associated with nonresponse to surveys. Women who underwent implant-based procedures were less likely to complete long-term surveys.

CONCLUSIONS:

As survey-based research plays an increasingly prominent role in evaluating the outcomes of breast reconstruction, we found socioeconomic and procedure-related differences in survey response rates. Investigators must consider systematic differences in response rates among particular groups of women on the generalizability and validity of findings and perform rigorous nonresponse bias analyses.

KEYWORDS:

Breast cancer; Breast reconstruction; Epidemiology; Patient-reported outcomes; Study bias; Surgical outcomes

PMID:
29506826
PMCID:
PMC5844368
[Available on 2019-04-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.jss.2017.11.058

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