To assess the validity of the estimates obtained through telephone survey and to measure the impact of the post-stratification weighting factor to adjust estimates.
The same questionnaire was completed by two independent samples of the population living in the municipal- ity of Belo Horizonte city (Barreiro and West regions). One sample (n=440) completed the questionnaire of VIGITEL 2008 (telephone survey), and the other (n=4,048) of Saúde em Beagá (face to face household interview). The results of the two samples for 18 health- related variables were compared by means of test statistics. At first, residents who had a landline telephone line were compared to those who reported not having a telephone line; then, VIGITEL estimates, with and without post-stratification weight, were compared with Saúde em Beagá estimates.
Subjects who owned a landline telephone line had indicators for better economic conditions (housing, schooling, and skin color); higher prevalence of chronic diseases; lower exposure to risk factors for chronic diseases; and improved access to health services, compared to the those who reported not having a telephone line. Most VIGITEL estimates (without post-stratification weight) were similar to the sample of Saúde em Beagá that reported owning a residential landline, showing no major impact of the methodology to obtain this data (lower information bias). Even without post-stratification weight, VIGITEL estimates were similar to those of Saúde em Beagá. With post-stratification weight, the estimates of “number of residents”, “skin color” and “physical activity” did not differ from those obtained by the face to face survey.
The results of both surveys were very similar. Because of the lower cost, the telephone interview is a good option in public health for the behavioral risk-factor surveillance system.