Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 785–791 | Cite as

Use of Monetary and Nonmonetary Incentives to Increase Response Rates Among African Americans in the Wisconsin Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System

  • Jennifer Dykema
  • John Stevenson
  • Chad Kniss
  • Katherine Kvale
  • Kim González
  • Eleanor Cautley


From 2009 to 2010, an experiment was conducted to increase response rates among African American mothers in the Wisconsin Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS). Sample members were randomly assigned to groups that received a prepaid, cash incentive of $5 (n = 219); a coupon for diapers valued at $6 (n = 210); or no incentive (n = 209). Incentives were included with the questionnaire, which was mailed to respondents. We examined the effects of the incentives on several outcomes, including response rates, cost effectiveness, survey response distributions, and item nonresponse. Response rates were significantly higher for the cash group than for the coupon (42.5 vs. 32.4%, P < .05) or no incentive group (42.5 vs. 30.1%, P < .01); the coupon and no incentive groups performed similarly. While absolute costs were the highest for the cash group, the cost per completed survey was the lowest. The incentives had limited effects on response distributions for specific survey questions. Although respondents completing the survey by mail in the cash and coupon groups exhibited a trend toward being less likely to have missing data, the effect was not significant. Compared to a coupon or no incentive, a small cash incentive significantly improved response rates and was cost effective among African American respondents in Wisconsin PRAMS. Incentives had only limited effects, however, on survey response distributions, and no significant effects on item nonresponse.


PRAMS Incentives Response rates African American Survey methods 



This research was a collaborative undertaking. University of Wisconsin Survey Center (UWSC) members appreciate the many contributions of the Wisconsin PRAMS staff including: Kim González, Data Manager; Katherine Kvale, Project Director; and Eleanor Cautley, Project Coordinator. The cash incentive for this experiment was provided through a one-time grant from the Division of Public Health. The diaper coupons were generously donated by the Kimberly-Clark company. Research support was provided by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which is support by the College of Letters & Science. We incorporated comments made by members of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services during a presentation of the preliminary results, and from Nora Cate Schaeffer. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2010 meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. This publication was supported by CDC Cooperative Agreement Number 5UR6/DP000492-03. Opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Dykema
    • 1
  • John Stevenson
    • 1
  • Chad Kniss
    • 1
  • Katherine Kvale
    • 2
  • Kim González
    • 2
  • Eleanor Cautley
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Wisconsin Survey CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Division of Public HealthWisconsin Department of Health ServicesMadisonUSA

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