Testing the Acceptability of Asking Respondents for Identifying Information in a Cross-Sectional Survey of the General Population

Short paper
By Stéphane Legleye, Jean-Baptiste Richard, Grégoire Rey, François Beck, Madeleine Grieve

General population telephone surveys are vital tools for describing health behaviours of the population. In the 2014 Baromètre santé health survey, we tested the feasibility of requesting identifying data – social security number and birth details such as first name, surname, place and date of birth – that could potentially be matched with medical and administrative data. The questions on willingness to provide social security number or birth details were tested on a random sub-sample of more than 3,000 respondents. The study did not measure actual provision of the identifying data, only the intention to do so. A much higher percentage of people were willing to provide their name and birth details than their social security number (51.9% versus 34.9%). Men agreed to the requests more readily, as did respondents with the highest educational level, or in higher-level occupations (social security number) or with a high income (social security number and birth details). Respondents surveyed over a mobile telephone agreed less frequently, whereas respondents who reported health problems (chronic illness, functional limitations), who were sedentary, who drank alcohol daily or who considered themselves to be in poor health agreed more frequently. The practical conditions for applying this method remain to be tested in a future survey.


  • health survey
  • secure data matching
  • general population survey
  • randomized experiment
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