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Refusal Conversion

Refusal conversions are the procedures that survey researchers use to gain cooperation from a sampled respondent who has refused an initial survey request. Refusal conversion may include different versions of the survey introductions and other written scripts or materials (e.g. cover letters), study contact rules, incentives, and interviewer characteristics and training. This is a common procedure for many surveys, but it requires careful consideration of the details of the refusal conversion efforts and the potential costs versus the potential benefits of the effort.

The goal of converting initial refusals is to raise the survey response rate, under the assumption that this may lower the potential for refusal-related unit nonresponse error. The research literature contains reports of successfully converting refusals in telephone surveys between 5% and 40% ...

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