Non-response to baseline, non-response to follow-up and mortality in the Whitehall II cohort

Jane E. Ferrie, Mika Kivimäki, Archana Singh-Manoux, Alison Shortt, Pekka Martikainen, Jenny Head, Michael Marmot, David Gimeno, Roberto De Vogli, Marko Elovainio, Martin J. Shipley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the associations between non-response to follow-up surveys and mortality, or differences in these associations by socioeconomic position in studies with repeat data collections. Methods: The Whitehall II study of socioeconomic inequalities in health provided response status from five data collection surveys; Phase 1 (1985-88, n = 10 308), Phase 5 (1997- 99, n = 6533), and all-cause mortality to 2006. Odd-numbered phases included a medical examination in addition to a questionnaire. Results: Non-response to baseline and to follow-up phases that included a medical examination was associated with a doubling of the mortality hazard in analyses adjusted for age and sex. Compared with complete responders, responders who missed one or more phases, but completed the last possible phase before they died, had a 38% excess risk of mortality. However, those who missed one or more phases including the last possible phase before death had an excess risk of 127%. There was no evidence that these associations differed by socioeconomic position. Conclusion: In studies with repeat data collections, non-response to follow-up is associated with the same doubling of the mortality risk as non-response to baseline; an association that is not modified by socioeconomic position.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-837
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • All-cause mortality
  • Non-response to follow-up
  • Occupational cohort
  • Partial response
  • Socioeconomic inequalities
  • White-collar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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