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Should samples be weighted to decrease selection bias in online surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic? Data from seven datasets

Abstract : Background: Online surveys have triggered a heated debate regarding their scientific validity. Many authors have adopted weighting methods to enhance the quality of online survey findings, while others did not find an advantage for this method. This work aims to compare weighted and unweighted association measures after adjustment over potential confounding, taking into account dataset properties such as the initial gap between the population and the selected sample, the sample size, and the variable types. Methods: This study assessed seven datasets collected between 2019 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic through online cross-sectional surveys using the snowball sampling technique. Weighting methods were applied to adjust the online sample over sociodemographic features of the target population. Results: Despite varying age and gender gaps between weighted and unweighted samples, strong similarities were found for dependent and independent variables. When applied on the same datasets, the regression analysis results showed a high relative difference between methods for some variables, while a low difference was found for others. In terms of absolute impact, the highest impact on the association measure was related to the sample size, followed by the age gap, the gender gap, and finally, the significance of the association between weighted age and the dependent variable. Conclusion: The results of this analysis of online surveys indicate that weighting methods should be used cautiously, as weighting did not affect the results in some databases, while it did in others. Further research is necessary to define situations in which weighting would be beneficial.
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https://www.hal.inserm.fr/inserm-03694392
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Submitted on : Monday, June 13, 2022 - 4:24:42 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 15, 2022 - 3:09:13 AM

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Chadia Haddad, Hala Sacre, Rony M Zeenny, Aline Hajj, Marwan Akel, et al.. Should samples be weighted to decrease selection bias in online surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic? Data from seven datasets. BMC Medical Research Methodology, BioMed Central, 2022, 22 (1), pp.63. ⟨10.1186/s12874-022-01547-3⟩. ⟨inserm-03694392⟩

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