Effectiveness of strategies to increase participation in school-based epidemiological surveys: a rapid review

T A Dyer, A-M Glenny, L MacDonald, Z Marshman, K Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Rapid review of the literature on strategies to increase participation rates in school-based epidemiological surveys.

BASIC RESEARCH DESIGN: Rapid review. MEDLINE and Embase databases were searched for articles written in English from 2000 onwards. Synthesised evidence and primary research were included as data sources from peer reviewed journals and reports.

INTERVENTIONS: Any strategy aiming to increase participation in school-based health surveys. The comparator was usual procedure or an alternative strategy to increase participation.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcomes included participation and consent rates. Secondary outcomes were feasibility, acceptability and adverse effects.

RESULTS: The search identified 591 unique records, of which 587 were excluded. Four studies were suitable for inclusion, including one systematic review, one randomised controlled trial, one cross-sectional study and one retrospective analysis. Based on very low certainty evidence, recommendations for maximising participation rates in one systematic review of US studies included: promoting the survey to school staff, parents and students; disseminating study information using direct rather than mediated methods; offering incentives to schools, staff and participants; following up non-responders; and employing a research team member to co-ordinate and monitor recruitment. However, UK studies found that different strategies did not increase participation more than that achieved by a standard approach (delivery of covering letter/consent forms via the child with no follow-up of non-responders).

CONCLUSION: Given the lack of evidence of effectiveness of alternative strategies in the UK, additional measures beyond existing standard approaches for active consent cannot be recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalCommunity Dental Health
Issue number1
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Child
  • Humans
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Parents
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Schools
  • Students
  • Health Surveys
  • Oral Health
  • Parental Consent
  • parental consent
  • oral health
  • health surveys


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