This breakout followed the panel presentation on this topic by Pam Wells (Increasing Response Rates in Difficult to Reach Populations) and Kerryann DiLoreto (Gaining Cooperation in a Multi-Mode Study of African-Americans) at the 2006 CMOR Respondent Cooperation Workshop, and we spent the full session discussing problems and solutions with the attendees (approximately 30 people).

Problem: Respondents don’t respond well to interviewers who are perceived to be different from them

Possible Solutions:

  1. match interviewer characteristics to the population being studied
  2. be aware of accents
  3. also note pace of delivery, some populations prefer conversations at a slower pace while others respond well to fast speaking interviewers
  4. train interviewers to identify problems that might be due to a mis-match in characteristics and empower them to report such concerns

Problem: The population being studied doesn’t respond well to cold callers – some minorities are more distrusting of cold calls

Possible Solutions:

  1. send advance notification
  2. elicit support from a local advocacy group
  3. get endorsement from a recognized organization

Problem: Increasing reliance on cell phones in younger and minority populations

Possible Solutions:

  1. try calling later (after 9pm) when minutes are free instead of during peak minute times
  2. need to develop ways to overcome concerns of confidentiality, privacy, safety, liability – all of these increase when calling cell phones
  3. need to develop methods to operationalize use of cell phones in samples and telephone surveys

Problem: Respondents are afraid of speaking to strangers and giving out personal information – revealing personal details is not always the norm in some populations

Possible Solutions:

  1. train interviewers on easy to present rebuttals that can reassure respondents and calm their fears
  2. be aware that offering to pay an incentive for information may make some populations more suspicious

Problem: Hispanic populations may need Spanish interviews

Possible Solutions:

  1. if have any information in your database, even for an RDD sample, that suggests the home may need a Spanish interview, mark the phone number in advance and have the first calls made by a bilingual interviewer
  2. train the English-speaking interviewers in a simple Spanish phrase to use when they encounter a Spanish-speaking household – something to say that a Spanish speaker will soon call them back
  3. be aware of the specific Spanish dialect needed for your population