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Using number of failed contact attempts to adjust for non-ignorable non-response

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We present a general method of adjustment for non-ignorable non-response in studies where one or more further attempts are made to contact initial non-responders. A logistic regression model relates the probability of response at each contact attempt to covariates and outcomes of interest. We assume that the effect of these covariates and outcomes on the probability of response is the same at all contact attempts. Knowledge of the number of contact attempts enables estimation of the model by using only information from the respondents and the number of non-responders. Three approaches for fitting the response models and estimating parameters of substantive interest and their standard errors are compared: a modified conditional likelihood method in which the fitted inverse probabilities of response are used in weighted analyses for the outcomes of interest, an EM procedure with the Louis formula and a Bayesian approach using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. We further propose the creation of several sets of weights to incorporate uncertainty in the probability weights in subsequent analyses. Our methods are applied as a sensitivity analysis to a postal survey of symptoms in Persian Gulf War veterans and other servicemen.

Keywords: Bias; Inverse probability weighting; Non-ignorable response; Non-response; Repeated attempts

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, UK 2: Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK

Publication date: 2006-07-01

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