Pre-Survey Text Messages (SMS) Improve Participation Rate in an Australian Mobile Telephone Survey: An Experimental Study

Eleonora Dal Grande, Catherine Ruth Chittleborough, Stefano Campostrini, Maureen Dollard, Anne Winifred Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Mobile telephone numbers are increasingly being included in household surveys samples. As approach letters cannot be sent because many do not have address details, alternatives approaches have been considered. This study assesses the effectiveness of sending a short message service (SMS) to a random sample of mobile telephone numbers to increase response rates. A simple random sample of 9000 Australian mobile telephone numbers: 4500 were randomly assigned to be sent a pre-notification SMS, and the remaining 4500 did not have a SMS sent. Adults aged 18 years and over, and currently in paid employment, were eligible to participate. American Association for Public Opinion Research formulas were used to calculated response cooperation and refusal rates. Response and cooperation rate were higher for the SMS groups (12.4% and 28.6%respectively) than the group with no SMS (7.7% and 16.0%). Refusal rates were lower for the SMS group (27.3%) than the group with no SMS (35.9%). When asked, 85.8%of the pre-notification group indicated they remembered receiving a SMS about the study. Sending a pre-notification SMS is effective in improving participation in population-based surveys. Response rates were increased by 60% and cooperation rates by 79%.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0150231
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS One
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Mobile telephone numbers
  • Household surveys
  • Response rates
  • Short message service (SMS)
  • Opinion polling


Dive into the research topics of 'Pre-Survey Text Messages (SMS) Improve Participation Rate in an Australian Mobile Telephone Survey: An Experimental Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this