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Aug 21 -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) invites public comments to OMB by September 27, 2023 regarding the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) for 2024-2026. [Comments due 30 days after submission to OMB on August 28.]

The NSFG was conducted periodically between 1973 and 2002, continuously in 2006–2010, and after a break of 15 months, continuously in 2011–2019, by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), CDC. Each year, about 13,500 households will be screened, with about 5,000 participants interviewed annually. Participation in the NSFG is completely voluntary and confidential. Interviews are expected to average 50 minutes for males and 75 minutes for females. The response rate during the 2011–2019 data collection period ranged from 64.5% to 74.0%, and the cumulative response rate for this 8-year fieldwork period was 67.7%.

The NSFG program produces descriptive statistics which document factors associated with birth and pregnancy rates, including contraception, infertility, marriage, cohabitation, and sexual activity, in the US household population 15–49 years (15–44 prior to 2015), as well as behaviors that affect the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD). The survey also disseminates statistics on the medical care associated with contraception, infertility, pregnancy, and related health conditions.

NSFG data users include the DHHS programs that fund the survey, including CDC/NCHS and eleven others within the Department of Health and Human Services:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NIH/NICHD)
Office of Population Affairs (OPA)
Children's Bureau in the Administration for Children and Families (ACF/CB)
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (ACF/CB)
Office on Women's Health (OASH/OWH)
CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (CDC/NCHHSTP/DHAP)
CDC's Division of STD Prevention (CDC/NCHHSTP/DSTDP)
CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC/NCHHSTP/DASH)
CDC's Division of Reproductive Health (CDC/NCCDPHP/DRH)
CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control (CDC/NCCDPHP/DCPC)
CDC's Division of Violence Prevention (CDC/NCIPC/DVP)

The NSFG is also used by state and local governments (primarily for benchmarking to national data); private research and action organizations focused on men's and women's health, child well-being, and marriage and the family; academic researchers in the social and public health sciences; journalists, and many others.

This submission requests approval for a revision to NSFG data collection for three years. The revision request includes the increase of the main survey incentive from $40 to $60, a small set of questionnaire revisions beginning in Year 3 (2024) data collection and to conduct several methodological studies designed to improve the efficiency and validity of NSFG data collection for the purposes described above.
To address the continuing challenges to national face-to-face surveys, including declining response rates, increasing costs and risks of nonresponse bias, several methodological and operational experiments have been and will be conducted during NSFG data collection for 2022-2029.  The impact of COVID-19 added to the challenges and accelerated the need for alternatives to in-person interviewing mode.  The following experiments were proposed for this data collection period, and below we summarize their status with respect to the current revision request.

-- Test of a fully face-to-face interview mode compared to multi-mode, whereby respondents are initially offered a web-based survey and followed up with face-to-face mode. Evaluation plans included impacts on response rates, cost, demographic composition, and survey estimates. This mode experiment was slated to take place in Quarters 1 and 2 of 2022, however high COVID-19 rates precluded this from happening when originally planned, and Quarter 1 of 2022 was launched as web-only in Phases 1 and 2 (first 12 weeks) of the quarter, with field interviewers only able to begin in-person data collection in Phase 3.  In addition, ongoing labor market difficulties for hiring and retaining field staff throughout Year 1 (2022) and into Year 2 (2023) have further delayed this mode experiment, which is now being planned for 2024, pending the ability to fully staff the sample areas with interviewers to conduct data collection in-person for both arms of the experiment.

-- Test of an electronic life history calendar:  A paper calendar serving as a recall aid for female respondents to remember events central to the NSFG, was indeed converted to electronic form. Due to the challenges precluding in-person data collection in early 2022, the conversion of the paper calendar to an electronic form, necessary for the web-based survey, was accelerated to launch  from the start in January 2022.  The electronic version retains features of the paper calendar used in the 2011-2019 fieldwork and earlier, adapting the display and method of entry of responses for electronic devices including smartphones.  A set of debriefing questions were asked of a sample of female respondents in 2022, and the results are described in Attachment D3. Evaluation of the life history calendar by mode is postponed until the mode experiment can be conducted (see above). Thus results presented in Attachment D3 are informative as an initial feasibility test for the electronic calendar, with face-to-face (paper) calendar results from the multimode design used for reference only, but a more systematic experimental comparison is not yet possible.

-- Experiments will be considered in the remainder of 2022-2029 data collection to enhance NSFG’s introductory and reminder materials, toward the goals of increasing cooperation, reducing interviewer travel costs, and improving response rates.  In Quarters 3 and 4 of 2022, two experiments were conducted towards these goals and are described further in Attachments D1 and D4.  Both experiments were approved by OMB through a nonsubstantive change request in May 2022.  The mailed paper screener experiment (Attachment D1) did not yield results to support continuing to offer this alternate mode of completing the household screener.  However, the preliminary results of the incentive experiment, comparing $60 and $80 experimental arms to the standard $40 incentive (Attachment D4), did suggest that an increase to the main survey incentive would not only improve response rates but disproportionately increase completion among underrepresented groups of interest and potentially reduce nonresponse bias in some key estimates.  A nonsubstantive change request was approved by OMB in November 2022 to continue this incentive experiment into 2023, with 1 experimental arm ($60) instead of 2, in order to amass more statistically robust evidence to support the incentive increase (from $40 to $60) proposed in the current revision request.

As part of nonresponse bias estimation and reduction, further experiments will be considered in the remainder of 2022-2029 data collection involving collection of auxiliary information such as information on sample members and households, including nonrespondents to the main survey. In Year 1 (2022), as a “Phase 4” for the first 2 quarters of data collection, nonresponse follow-up questionnaires were sent to screener and main survey nonrespondents in an attempt to obtain basic information for purposes of nonresponse bias measurement and adjustments.  These results are summarized in Attachment D2.
NSFG: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nsfg/index.htm
NCHS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202307-0920-006 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-17920

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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