Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
JS_RN01_RN21_09: Adressing Older People in Survey Research: Potentials and Limitations
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Jolanta Perek-Białas, Jagiellonian University, Cracow and Warsaw School of Economics
Location: BS.3.17
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road

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Consequences of Context Effects and Provision of ‘don’t know’ Categories for Survey Data Quality in Nursing Home Residents: Results from Split-ballot Experiments

Patrick Kutschar1, Martin Weichbold2, Jürgen Osterbrink1

1Paracelsus Medical University Salzburg, Austria; 2Paris Lodron University Salzburg, Austria

Background. Both question and response order may affect the quality of survey data. This is of special concern when interviewing nursing home residents (NHR). Decline in cognitive function is assumed to increase the likelihood of response order but decrease the likelihood of question order effects. Also, a link between cognition and the probability of don’t know (DK) response styles has repeatedly been posed with respect to satisficing theory.

Methods and Split-ballots. Data of 396 NHR from the cRCT ‘PIASMA’ (2016-2018) are used to test above mentioned assumptions. Standardised instruments were applied to examine pain, depression and quality of life in NHR with no, mild or moderate cognitive impairment (CI). Several split-ballots experiments were conducted: Question order effects were tested by reversing the item order within the seven-item Brief Pain Inventory 'Pain Interference Scale'. Further experimental conditions were implemented in 15-item 'Geriatric Depression Scale': (a) reversed answer categories (no/yes); (b) additional DK category per item (yes/no/DK).

Results. As expected, only in NHR with no CI three items were answered significantly different due to question order (e.g. joy of living was negatively rated if presented last rather than first). Significant response order effects were observed for NHR with advanced CI (recency effect: 3 items) but also for those with no CI (primacy effect: 3 items). Offering an DK category neither affected DK-frequency nor item distributions.

Discussion. Context effects seem to limit data quality in surveys of (institutionalised) elderly. Direction and strength of such are moderated by the individuals’ cognitive function. This talk discusses explanations for the observed or absent effects and furthermore presents consequences for selected statistical measures (i.e. scale scores, internal consistency, correlations).

Interviewers’ Assessment of the Respondents’ Ability to Understand Survey Questions. Does Respondents’ Age Matter?

Danuta Zyczynska-Ciolek, Marta Kolczynska

Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

Many survey questionnaires include at the end a set of questions for interviewers. For example, the European Social Survey from its very beginning contains the following question addressed to interviewers: ‘Overall, did you feel that the respondent understood the questions?’. In my paper I use data from the ESS Round 8 to investigate how interviewers answer this question. In the first part I analyse general differences between European countries in this respect. In the second one I focus on the interviewers’ assessment of the elderly respondents’ ability to understand the questions. The ESS creates a convenient opportunity to conduct such an analysis, as there is no upper age limit of the participants: the oldest respondent in 2016 was 105 years old. The ESS dataset also contains interviewers’ characteristics that I use as control variables.

Mobile Data Collection With Smartphones: Collecting Social Behaviour Data In The Everyday Lives Of Older Adults

Alexander Seifert1, Friedrich Wolf2

1University of Zurich, Switzerland; 2Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

This talk explores an underutilized method in sociology and gerontology: mobile data collection with smartphones. This method belongs to the family of ambulatory assessment and experience sampling that make it possible to assess and track older people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, behaviours or physiological processes in daily life using a smartphone. The primary goal of mobile data collection via smartphone is to collect in-the-moment active data (i.e., subjective self-reports) and/or passive data (e.g., data collected from smartphone sensors). This method is growing rapidly in popularity, due to its many advantages: First, its findings are ecologically valid, because they are collected during people’s day-to-day lives in their real environments; second, the reports are collected in the moment, and are therefore less prone to memory bias than retrospective assessments; third, intensive, repeated measurements of one participant capture within-person information; fourth, real-life data are rich in contextual information, as they allow for the combination of self-reports and objective activity assessments, using the sensors that are already built into smartphones; and fifth, as measurement devices, smartphones are both powerful and widespread in the general population. The presentation will address the advantages of this method by first introducing the method, and then discussing its use in two exemplary studies among older adults: one on daily smartphone/internet use and wellbeing (N = 35, 60-70 years old, tracked over 7 days), and the other on daily neighbourhood contact affecting positive day-to-day valence, loneliness and attachment (N = 77, 61-91 years old, tracked over 20 days).

Older Co-Researchers And Social Inclusion

Hanna-Kaisa Hoppania, Anni Vilkko, Päivi Topo

Age Institute, Finland

Democratisation of social research and inclusion of lay people as co-researchers in research projects is growing. It is still relatively marginal practice. In social gerontology researchers are practically always younger than those who they study. Little is known how this affects the results of interview studies, in which the manner of social interaction plays a crucial role.

This paper presents a pilot study in which older people were trained as co-researchers to interview other older people. The study is part of an evaluation of an on-going programme Elämänote (”Grip of life”) in which 20 NGOs in Finland run three-year community projects to improve the social inclusion of older people who live at home (i.e. are not residents of care homes). Through a qualitative longitudinal approach, 20-40 participants will be interviewed three times over a period of two years. The interviewers will be older people recruited as volunteers from the same localities.

The purpose of this paper is, firstly to describe the pilot phase of the research in which seven interviewers were recruited and trained. They each completed two interviews with the same interviewee. Secondly, we discuss the way we conceptualise and opearationalise social inclusion in the theme interviews. Finally, we present the initial results of how the method developed here functions and what were the first findings of the interviews in terms of social inclusion of older people. We will relate our discussion to similar European projects (BAS; Buffel 2018).