Frauke Kreuter, Andrew W. Mercer, Wendy Hicks
Increasing fieldwork efficiency through prespecified appointments

Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, 2014: 2, Heft 2, S. 210-223
ISSN: 2325-0992

Responsive survey designs may attempt to tailor contact attempts to selected units based on available information about the units. Cross-sectional surveys often lack sufficient information for such tailoring, especially at the beginning of the field period. In panel surveys, on the other hand, information from prior waves exists, and such information can be used to refine attempts to make contact or elicit cooperation. However, existing findings regarding the effectiveness of such information are confounded with interviewers' and respondents' behaviors. This research note reports results from a randomized field experiment that tested the use of prior wave contact information to increase fieldwork efficiency in a face-to-face survey. A random subset of respondents to the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component was informed via postcard about a prespecified interview appointment. The date and time of the appointment were based on information from the prior wave interview date. Such date assignment significantly reduced the number of actions needed to achieve an interview in the treatment group compared to the control group, reducing the number of hours worked in the field by 4 percent.