Contactable Non-responders Show Different Characteristics Compared to Lost to Follow-Up Participants: Insights from an Australian Longitudinal Birth Cohort Study
Objective: This research aims to identify predictors of attrition in a longitudinal birth cohort study in Australia and assess differences in baseline characteristics and responses in subsequent follow-up phases between contactable non-responders and uncontactable non-responders deemed “lost to follow-up (LTF)”. Methods: 3368 women recruited from three public hospitals in Southeast Queensland and Northern New South Wales during antenatal visits in 2006–2011 completed a baseline questionnaire to elicit information on multiple domains of exposures. A follow-up questionnaire was posted to each participant at 1 year after birth to obtain mother’s and child’s health and development information. Multivariate logistic regression was used to model the association between exposures and respondents’ status at 1 year. The effect of an inverse-probability-weighting method to adjust for non-response was studied. Results Overall attrition at 1-year was 35.4 %; major types of attrition were “contactable non-response” (27.6 %) and “LTF” (6.7 %). These two attrition types showed different responses at the 3-year follow-up and involved different predictors. Besides shared predictors (first language not English, higher risk of psychological distress, had smoked during pregnancy, higher levels of family conflict), distinguishable predictors of contactable non-responders were younger age, having moved home in the past year and having children under 16 in the household. Attrition rates increased substantially from 20 % in 2006 to 54 % in 2011. Conclusions: This observed trend of increased attrition rates raises concern about the use of traditional techniques, such as “paper-based” questionnaires, in longitudinal cohort studies. The supplementary use of electronic communications, such as online survey tools and smart-device applications, could provide a better alternative.
Maternal and Child Health Journal
Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified