Survey Breakoffs in a Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview


  • Katherine A. McGonagle Institute for Social Research, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan



Panel study, breakoff, survey response behavior, paradata, computer-assisted telephone interview


Nearly 23% of all telephone interviews in the most recently completed wave of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics break off at least once, requiring multiple sessions to complete the interview. Given this high rate, a study was undertaken to better understand the causes and consequences of temporary breakoffs in a computer-assisted telephone interview setting. The majority of studies examining breakoffs have been conducted in the context of self-administered web surveys. The present study uses new paradata collected on telephone interview breakoffs to describe their prevalence, associated field effort, the instrument sections and questions on which they occur, their source - whether respondent-initiated, interviewer-initiated, or related to telephone problems - and associations with respondent and interviewer characteristics. The results provide information about the survey response process and suggest a set of recommendations for instrument design and interviewer training, as well as additional paradata that should be collected to provide more insight into the breakoff phenomenon.




How to Cite

McGonagle, K. A. (2013). Survey Breakoffs in a Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview. Survey Research Methods, 7(2), 79–90.




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