The impact of the method of consent on response rates in the ISAAC time trends study
METHODS: Retrospectively, relationships between achieved response rates and method of consent for 13–14 and 6–7-year-olds (adolescents and children, respectively), were examined between phases and between English and non-English language centres.
RESULTS: Information was obtained for 113 of 115 centres for adolescents and 72/72 centres for children. Both age groups: most centres using passive consent achieved high response rates (>80% adolescents and >70% children). English language centres using active consent showed a larger decrease in response rate. Adolescents: seven centres changed from passive consent in Phase I to active consent in Phase III (median decrease of 13%), with five centres showing lower response rates (as low as 34%). Children: no centre changed consent method between phases. Centres using active consent had lower median response rates (lowest response rate 45%).
CONCLUSION: The requirement for active consent for population school-based questionnaire studies can impact negatively on response rates, particularly English language centres, thus adversely affecting the validity of the data. Ethics committees need to consider this issue carefully.
Document Type: Regular Paper
Publication date: 01 August 2010
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