Background: The implementation of an Internet option in an existing public health interview survey using a mixed-mode design is attractive because of lower costs and faster data availability. Additionally, mixed-mode surveys can increase response rates and improve sample composition. However, mixed-mode designs can increase the risk of measurement error (mode effects). Objective: This study aimed to determine whether the prevalence rates or mean values of self- and parent-reported health indicators for children and adolescents aged 0-17 years differ between self-administered paper-based questionnaires (SAQ-paper) and self-administered Web-based questionnaires (SAQ-Web), as well as between a single-mode control group and different mixed-mode groups. Methods: Data were collected for a methodological pilot of the third wave of the ``German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents''. Questionnaires were completed by parents or adolescents. A population-based sample of 11,140 children and adolescents aged 0-17 years was randomly allocated to 4 survey designs—a single-mode control group with paper-and-pencil questionnaires only (n=970 parents, n=343 adolescents)—and 3 mixed-mode designs, all of which offered Web-based questionnaire options. In the concurrent mixed-mode design, both questionnaires were offered at the same time (n=946 parents, n=290 adolescents); in the sequential mixed-mode design, the SAQ-Web was sent first, followed by the paper questionnaire along with a reminder (n=854 parents, n=269 adolescents); and in the preselect mixed-mode design, both options were offered and the respondents were asked to request the desired type of questionnaire (n=698 parents, n=292 adolescents). In total, 3468 questionnaires of parents of children aged 0-17 years (SAQ-Web: n=708; SAQ-paper: n=2760) and 1194 questionnaires of adolescents aged 11-17 years (SAQ-Web: n=299; SAQ-paper: n=895) were analyzed. Sociodemographic characteristics and a broad range of health indicators for children and adolescents were compared by survey design and data collection mode by calculating predictive margins from regression models. Results: There were no statistically significant differences in sociodemographic characteristics or health indicators between the single-mode control group and any of the mixed-mode survey designs. Differences in sociodemographic characteristics between SAQ-Web and SAQ-paper were found. Web respondents were more likely to be male, have higher levels of education, and higher household income compared with paper respondents. After adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics, only one of the 38 analyzed health indicators showed different prevalence rates between the data collection modes, with a higher prevalence rate for lifetime alcohol consumption among the online-responding adolescents (P<.001). Conclusions: These results suggest that mode bias is limited in health interview surveys for children and adolescents using a mixed-mode design with Web-based and paper questionnaires.
Mauz, E., Hoffmann, R., Houben, R., Krause, L., Kamtsiuris, P., & Gößwald, A. (2018). Mode Equivalence of health indicators between data collection modes and mixed-mode survey designs in population-based health interview surveys for children and adolescents: Methodological study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(3). https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7802