Use of mixed methods for follow-up survey implementation in five large geographically dispersed cohorts in Canada: successes and challenges in the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project
Jul 27, 09:00
The choice of method for survey implementation can be a complex decision, based on resources, implementation capacity, and considerations for participant characteristics. It is important to carefully consider these numerous factors, as a negative user experience may jeopardize future participant retention in the study, an issue of primary concern for longitudinal cohorts. Further, since data collection is typically the major point of contact between the cohort study and participant, “getting it right” is of critical importance. The Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project (CPTP) is a pan-Canadian population health cohort comprised of five regional cohorts spanning 8 provinces and 300,000 participants. Participants for the CPTP cohorts were recruited and completed baseline harmonized questionnaires from 2009-2017. Beginning in late 2016 and ending in 2018, the first nation-wide follow-up questionnaire was administered to all participants; the questionnaire itself was harmonized, however the methods and approach for implementation were at the discretion of the cohorts, including both survey design (paper vs. online options, design and hosting of the online survey) and reminder protocols (number of reminders and method - phone, email, letter, or a combination thereof). This paper will 1) describe the approaches used by each of the cohorts, 2) compare and contrast the successes and challenges experienced by each cohort, and 3) explore the characteristics that contributed to these successes and challenges. We will address these questions using a mix of quantitative (e.g. response rates, length of time to complete surveys, estimated resources required for each approach) and qualitative data (e.g. quotes and anecdotal information about specific challenges encountered by participants and their user experience) in order to provide both objective evidence as well as experiential insight to better inform decision making. In summary, the CPTP represent a large and geographically diverse population cohort; while this provides rich data and valuable research opportunities, the operationalization of said cohorts comes with significant and often regional-specific challenges. The aim of this paper is to present an overview of methods utilized, evaluate the most successful methods, and conclude with recommendations and considerations for survey strategies for other large and diverse cohorts.