The feasibility of using a telephone-administered survey for determining nutritional service needs of noninstitutionalized older adults in rural areas: time and costs.
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PURPOSE: This study examined response, participation, time, and costs for a telephone-administered survey to obtain comprehensive information on general health, eating habits, living environment, and functional status from a sample of older persons in a rural North Carolina county. DESIGN AND METHODS: A probability sample of persons aged 60 years and older from the most recent electoral rolls were mailed a personalized letter, which was followed by telephone contact to recruit them into a contemporaneous survey that used a modified version of the Nutrition Screening Initiative's Level I and II screens. Time requirements and costs associated with the completion of surveys were calculated. RESULTS: Seventy-six percent of the persons contacted by telephone (residents of 96% of county precincts) completed the survey. Because minority elders were more likely to lack a working telephone, they were underrepresented in the sample. With 555 calling attempts (58% of surveys completed on first attempt), we estimated a cost of $10.65 per completed survey. IMPLICATIONS: Telephone-administered surveying of older adults may be considered as an appropriate component of an overall community-based service strategy. The estimation of the constituents of nutritional risk, by geographic area, economic status, or ethnicity, may aid in providing estimates of service needs and procuring and allocating resources. Additional methods of data collection are necessary in order to target older persons without telephone service.
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Sharkey, J. R., & Haines, P. S.
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