The use of proxy respondents in research involving centenarians: Proxies’ profiles and data quality in SWISS100 phone study

Zaccaria, Daniele and Cavalli, Stefano and Masotti, Barbara and Falciola, Justine and von Gunten, Armin and Herrmann, Francois and Jopp, Daniela (2023) The use of proxy respondents in research involving centenarians: Proxies’ profiles and data quality in SWISS100 phone study. In: International Centenarian Consortium 2023, 25.05.2023, Marstrand, Svezia. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

When investigating centenarians, the use of proxy respondents is paramount due to the high prevalence of age-related cognitive and physical health limitations, which place a greater burden on study participation. Several studies on proxies of younger older adults demonstrated that some proxies’ characteristics could influence the accuracy of collected data (e.g., age, gender, health, relationship with the older person). Instead, the research investigating such effects in surveys with very old individuals is limited. Our aim is to evaluate and discuss the involvement of proxy respondents in the SWISS100 phone study, with particular attention to their characteristics and quality of collected data. SWISS100 is a multidisciplinary longitudinal study aimed at investigating vulnerability and resilience among a sample of centenarians living in Switzerland and their proxies. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, in 2021 we performed a phone data collection. We conducted interviews with 78 centenarians (mean age = 101.6), and 76 proxy respondents (mean age = 68.2) for centenarians unable to take part in the interview themselves. We also recruited 27 proxy respondents (mean age = 72.0) who complemented centenarians’ answers, constituting a small sub-sample of dyadic interviews. We will use descriptive statistics to analyse proxy respondents’ characteristics and multivariate analysis to evaluate their association with typical indicators of data quality (i.e., item non-response, straightlining). Using the sub-sample of dyadic interviews, we will also assess the reliability of proxy respondents evaluating the agreement between their answers and those of centenarians. The implication of research findings on survey practice will be discussed.

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