Conclusion Our report illustrates that telephone surveys may not be as effective as they were a number of years ago. Major emerg- ing drawbacks highlighted by this review are the reduction in contact rate of the general population by land-line tel- ephone use alone, and the phenomenon of consumer fatigue where those contacted refuse to participate in phone interviews. Changes in telephone usage patterns are occurring at a rapid pace in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The increasing trend towards mobile- phone-only households, particularly in the Republic of Ireland sets a new challenge for researchers. While the ris- ing cost of obtaining completed interviews has been dem- onstrated by this review, nonetheless costs per completed telephone interview remain low relative to interviewer administrated surveys. Strategies must now be considered to maximise the utility of phone interviews. Researchers wishing to address the issue of declining response rates such consider using mul- timode techniques. These are generally conducted by using different methods of data collection simultaneously (e.g. Computer-Assisted Telephone Survey (CATI), Com- puter-Assisted Self Interviews (CASI), paper and online web surveys as well as mobile phones). One survey  shows that the response rate from multimode techniques (web 41%; paper 31%; overall response rate 72%) is greater than using one single method of data collection. In conducting a multimode method of data collection, par- ticipants can and should be offered the method of partic- ipation which suits them best i.e. web, postal or telephone. This should increase the overall response rate and at the same time establish the genuineness of responses given. Caveats are the lack of available mobile phone listings, and the possibility of continued consumer fatigue leading to non-response, as mobile phone users may characteris- tically lead busier lives. The recent legislation  reduc- ing permitted commercial marketing by phone may reduce consumer fatigue, and a possible increase in response to research surveys may be a welcome outcome. Incentives may increase response, particularly if consum- ers felt that public health or research would be aided by their participation. The use of the quota system, with age- sex distribution matching, may mitigate against poor response from one sector (e.g. young males) of the popu- lation. The challenge for researchers in a society where house- hold compositions are changing fairly rapidly and where the number of adults in households is increasing, is to ensure the sampling distribution is as representative as possible. It is now time to adapt the telephone survey approach to maximise representativeness and response, and further surveillance and ongoing assessment of the value of telephone surveys is required into the future.
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- Spring '18
- Professor Obura Oluoch