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Participation rate or response rate?

Terms participation rate and response rate are synonyms. Participation rate is often used in epidemiological studies, such as health examination surveys where invitees need to come to the examination clinic. Response rates are commonly used in questionnaire based surveys.

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Sex and age differeneces in participation rates

Participation rates are often lower among men than women. Also younger age groups (less than 30) as well as oldest age groups (75+ years) tend to have lower participation rates.

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Health examination surveys (HES), survey with data collection through questionnaires, physical examinations and collection of biological samples are important data sources for objective information about the health and health determinants of the general populations.

Declining participation rates in surveys are becoming a serious problem. Low participation rates risk the representativeness of the results. Therefore, there is an urgent need for approaches to stop the decline of particiaption rates and to develop adequate methods to control non-participation bias.

Specific aims of the project

The project aims to develop a feasible and cost-effective model to conduct representative HES in the future, to increase knowledge about the characteristics of the non-participants of HESs with respect to their socio-demographic status and health outcomes, to increase knowledge about the effect of recruitment mehtods on participation rates in different population groups,to learn about the effect of non-participation on the quality and representativeness of the survey results, and to develop methods for controlling non-participation bias in the results of HESs.

Main data sources

The project is using data from HESs conducted in Finland since 1972 and information obtained through record linkage from administrative registers.


The project is a joint initiative of two Finnish institutes: the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and University of Jyväskylä, Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Recent publications by the project

Recent presentations at the conferences


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