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Online Program

Demographic Flags and Dual-Language Survey Materials

*Jennifer S. Vanicek, NORC at the University of Chicago 
Kari Carris, NORC at the University of Chicago 
Felicia LeClere, NORC at the University of Chicago 
Ying Li, NORC at the University of Chicago 
Kanru Xia, NORC at the University of Chicago 

Keywords: demographic flags, computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI), self-administered questionnaire (SAQ), REACH U.S.

Identifying and gaining cooperation from households in which the primary language is not English (or Spanish) is a particular barrier to surveys targeting rare nationalities and ethnicities. When surveying these subpopulations, it is critical to collect data not just from individuals who speak English, but also from the non-English speakers since they may tend to represent older, less-educated, and recent immigrant populations that may be significantly different from their English-speaking counterparts. For a multi-mode survey conducted in numerous languages, collecting data in multiple languages becomes more difficult.

In Years 3 and 4 of the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health Across the U.S. Risk Factor Survey (REACH U.S.), NORC used vendor-provided race/ethnicity flags to identify non-English speaking households. Flagged households assigned to the mail mode were sent a dual-language self-administered questionnaire while households assigned to the telephone mode were initially assigned to a bilingual interviewer. In previous years, dual-language booklets were mailed only to households that requested them and households were not pre-assigned to a bilingual interviewer. We examine the effectiveness of these pre-flagged mailings and initial bilingual interviewer assignments. Comparing Year 2 to Years 3 and 4 data, we examine whether the use of these race/ethnicity flags contributed to increased survey participation among these harder to reach populations.

In addition, we will examine the characteristics of respondents who participate when dual-language booklets or bilingual interviewers are assigned to determine whether the targeted use of multiple language survey materials increases participation among certain groups within these sub-populations, including those whose primary language is English. In other words, are these effective means for gaining cooperation from hard to reach populations?

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