Feature Stories - 2006

Tracking and Interviewing HUD’s Family Options Study Participants

    Release Date: 9/8/2016

    In the latest issue of Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research, Abt SRBI Senior Project Director Brenda Rodriguez with co-author Debi McInnis of Abt Associates have a new article on the participant-tracking strategy and interview methods for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Family Options Study - a study which measures the effectiveness of HUD’s housing services and interventions for homeless families in 12 locations nationwide.
    Below is the citation information and abstract of the article:
    McInnis, Debi, Brenda Rodriguez. “Tracking and Interviewing Family Options Study Participants,” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research 18, No. 2 (2016): 201-220.
    Sample retention is a challenge for any longitudinal study. Panel attrition is inevitable. Panel retention is especially difficult with highly mobile, low-income study participants. This article examines the participant-tracking strategy used for the Family Options Study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Through the Family Options Study, 2,282 homeless families in 12 locations nationwide received three housing services and interventions. The study measures the effect of these housing services and interventions on study participants over a three-year follow-up period. Follow up surveys conducted 18 and 36 months after enrollment were the main source of data to measure the effects of the study interventions. The study used a rigorous participant-tracking approach that yielded high response rates. More than 80 percent of study participants responded to the 18-month survey, and 78 percent responded to the survey conducted 3 years after enrollment. Approximately 10 percent of the total evaluation costs were devoted to participant tracking. The tracking strategy used a variety of methods—telephone, mail, and in-person contacts—with varying degrees of frequency and intensity. The article examines the importance of local interviewers, participant incentives, the continued engagement of participants, and administrative data in the tracking strategy. Lessons from the Family Options Study point to the importance of a combination of methods for successful participant tracking.
    Click here to view the full article.
    Other Resources:
    Click here to view the full project description by Abt Associates.