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Requesting Consent to Link Survey Data to Administrative Records: Results from a Split-Ballot Experiment in the Survey of Health Insurance and Program Participation

Joanne Pascale
Component ID: #ti1145179630


Administrative records have begun to play a key role in survey research and, while policies regarding consent are still in flux, there is general agreement that research is needed on how to communicate to respondents what linking entails, and how to motivate their consent. Previous research found that 26 percent of those initially opposed to data sharing shifted their position when prompted with arguments about potential improvements in accuracy and reductions in cost (Singer and Presser, 1996). In order to take these findings further, in the spring of 2010 a field experiment was carried out by the US Census Bureau which included three panels, each presenting a different rationale to the respondent for data linkage: improved accuracy, reduced costs, and reduced respondent burden. Somewhat contrary to expectations, there was no statistically significant difference in consent rates across the three versions of the consent question. Overall levels of consent, however, were rather high (84 percent), and represented a shift of more than 20 percentage points compared to a similar study in 2004. Demographic analysis indicated that age and non-response to a household income question were predictors of both levels of consent and missing data on key variables needed to make that linkage. Education and sex were also predictors of objection rates. There was also some evidence of interviewer effects; one of the three interviewer groups had a higher rate of respondent objections to consent and a higher rate of missing data on key fields of data used for record linkage.

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