Tackling the cell-phone-only population

/ Source: The Associated Press

Some strategies being considered by survey researchers who are under growing pressure to include the cell-phone-only population in telephone surveys that cover everything from health problems to entertainment preferences to political attitudes.

  • Begin experimentally including cell phone users in surveys and polls — learning how to statistically blend those reached on cell phones with samples of people reached on traditional "land line" telephones.
  • Call those on cell phones on weekends when they are likely to have more unrestricted minutes and are less likely to be using limited weekday minutes.
  • Develop a system to offer reimbursement incentives to those called on cell phones, so that calls from survey researchers do not cost them any money or time on their cell phone contracts.
  • Come up with guidelines on how survey researchers can avoid endangering people reached by cell phone while they are driving or involved in some other activity that requires their concentration.
  • Carefully watch the growth of the cell-phone-only group to determine at what point the population is large enough to threaten the findings from survey research that doesn't sample them, requiring researchers to lobby for change in federal laws that prohibit the use of autodialers to contact those with cell phones.
  • Research how much cell phones are strictly a personal device and how much they are devices used by several members of one family — a crucial factor in getting a sample of respondents that represents the full population of cell phone users.