The Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) is a multi-mode survey that provides state-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and after pregnancy. While overall response rates for the survey are high, research shown that participation is significantly lower among minority populations, including African American mothers.
Many studies have examined the use of incentives to increase participation in PRAMS among minority populations. However, the use of incentives increase data collection costs. Less is known about how responsive survey design can be used to improve PRAMS response rates among hard to reach groups.
In 2017, the PRAMS administration in Kentucky found that response rates for the oversample of African American mothers (51%) was significantly lower than non-African American mothers (63%). Lower response rates can lead to higher levels of non-response bias in results. A review of survey dispositions found that African American mothers were more likely than others to complete the survey by telephone and had higher response rates for this mode. To better accommodate this group, data collection protocols were adjusted to move up the telephone survey to start before the third mail survey was received.
Preliminary results show that after the change was implemented response rates among African American mothers increased and there was no significant difference in response rates between the two groups. Full results will examine the impact of this responsive design approach on survey response distributions and item-level non-response.
Our findings will help other states improve their PRAMS data collection protocols when targeting hard to reach respondents. The study also demonstrates how changes in data collection protocols can increase response rates among minority populations without increasing data collection costs. Finally, it provides an example of how a responsive design approach can be used within a highly structured survey.