In survey research, a refusal occurs when a request to participate in a survey is declined. In addition, some respondents who do participate can refuse to answer a particular question (sometimes called item nonre-sponse) or can refuse to finish the survey (sometimes called a partial or breakoff interview). The refusal rate is calculated as the proportion of contacted people who decline the survey request. Some researchers include partial interviews as refusals in the refusal rate calculation, others do not.

Refusals are important because they are a major type of nonresponse that can potentially introduce error in survey estimates. With refusal rates increasing both in the United States and worldwide, the reasons for refusals and how they are handled are important concerns for survey researchers.

In telephone surveys, ...

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