Socioeconomic status and racial or ethnic differences in participation:web-based survey

Myoungock Jang, Allison Vorderstrasse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Web-based survey data collection has been widely used because of its advantages, although attaining and retaining participants can be challenging. There are several factors associated with successful Web-based survey participation; yet little is known regarding racial or ethnic and socioeconomic differences in the progress of a Web-based survey. Objective: This study aimed to examine racial or ethnic and socioeconomic status (SES) differences in participation in a Web-based survey. Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis of a study dataset containing information on parents of preschool children. We used 2 phases of Web-based surveys: (1) screening questions including race or ethnicity information and (2) full survey with a consent form. Once potential participants submitted the screening questions, including their racial or ethnic information, the team sent the full survey link to potential participants who met study eligibility criteria. We calculated the proportion of racial or ethnic groups in each of the following areas: Consent, partial survey completion, and total survey completion. Results: A total of 487 participants (236 non-Hispanic white, 44 Hispanic, 137 black, and 70 Asian) completed initial screening questions, and a total of 458 participants met study eligibility criteria. Compared with black participants, non-Hispanic white and Asian participants were more likely to consent to participate in the study (odds ratio [OR] 1.73, 95% CI 1.08-2.78, P=.02; OR 2.07, 95% CI 1.04-4.13, P=.04, respectively). There was no racial or ethnic difference with respect to the completion of demographic questions or completion of a partial survey. Finally, compared with black participants, non-Hispanic white participants were more likely to complete the entire survey (OR 3.36, 95% CI 1.51-7.06, P<.001). With respect to SES, less educated non-Hispanic white participants were less likely to complete the survey compared with their counterparts with more education (OR 0.15, 95% CI 0.50-1.48, P<.001). Conclusions: We found a significant difference among racial or ethnic groups as well as different education levels in Web-based survey participation. Survey researchers need to consider the SES and racial or ethnic differences in Web-based survey participation and develop strategies to address this bias in participation and completion in their research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11865
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Race
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Survey
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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