Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1992

Publication Title

Research on Aging

Volume

14

Issue

3

First Page

399

Last Page

418

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0164027592143006

Keywords

Bias, Elder care, Prevalence, Response bias, Review, Survey research

Abstract

This review synthesizes the findings of 17 independent studies dealing with the prevalence of elder care responsibilities among the work force population. Across-study, summative findings were: (a) approximately one fifth (M = 21.1%) to one quarter (Md = 23.1%) of employees provide care for an elderly dependent; primary study findings varied by a factor of nearly 25, ranging from a high estimate of 46.0% to a low of 1.9%; (b) the average response rate was fairly low (M = 45.0% and Md = 41. 1%), indicating that the studies captured only slightly more than one third, but less than half of all eligible in-sample assignments; (c) the correlation of prevalence and response rates was found to be r = -.69, p < .01; (d) the partial correlation of prevalence with response rate, adjusted for the breadth of the elder care operational definition, remained significant, r = -.50,p < .05; and (e) these two methodological characteristics together accounted for half (R2 = .505) of the variability in reported prevalence, response rate accounting for nearly all (95.4%) of this explained criterion variation. Bias due to nonresponse thus represents a potent threat to the validity of the mean prevalence estimate found in this body of research (21.1%). The implementation of statistical controls for nonresponse and definitional inconsistencies resulted in an estimated prevalence of 7.4% to 11.8%; however, this review outcome is tentative at best and must be tested with future, better controlled primary studies.

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