Cellphones Challenge Poll Sampling

By jajacobs | December 11, 2007

A new report from the U.S. National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) reports preliminary results that have implications for surveys that rely on telephone interviews. (Wireless Substitution: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, January – June 2007, by Stephen J. Blumberg, Ph.D., and Julian V. Luke, Division of Health Interview Statistics, National Center for Health Statistics.)

  • more than one out of every eight American homes (13.6%) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2007
  • Adults living in poverty (21.6%) were more likely than higher income adults to be living in households with only wireless telephones.
  • Non-Hispanic white adults (11.3%) and non-Hispanic black adults (14.3%) were less likely than Hispanic adults (18.0%) to be living in households with only wireless telephones.

…the inability to reach households with only wireless telephones (or with no telephone service) has potential implications for results from health surveys, political polls, and other research conducted using random-digit-dial telephone surveys.

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