Augmenting surveys: willingness and consent to participation in additional tasks and mobile tracking studies

March 22, 2018, 3pm

GESIS, Mannheim, B2,8

Bella Struminskaya


There is a growing interest in supplementing survey data with data from existing sources such as administrative records, having respondents and interviewers perform additional tasks and using new measurement opportunities of smartphones or wearable devices. The examples of the data used to augment surveys include social security records, tax and benefit records, hospital and healthcare records or education records. Specific additional tasks can include collecting biomarkers such as dried blood spots or saliva samples, while passively collected data using smartphones and wearables include browsing behaviour, GPS location, text messages logs, call logs or measures of physical activity.

Supplementing surveys in such ways can improve data quality by reducing survey errors due to recall and social desirability of self-reports, reduce respondent burden,  increase efficiency and reduce survey costs. Furthermore, it provides rich data about human behaviour that cannot be collected using alternative methods (location, physical activity). In the cases when such data linkage or collection requires consent from respondents, it is important to minimize refusals and minimize bias which can result from systematic differences between those who consent/participate and those who do not.

In this talk, I review the challenges obtaining respondents’ consent to linkage or collection of additional data and performing additional tasks, the mechanisms of maximizing willingness and participation rates and provide insight into factors that influence willingness and participation in passive data collection using smartphone sensors and wearable devices as well as provide information about current and prospective experimental studies carried out in collaboration of Utrecht University and Statistics Netherlands (CBS).