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Research on Asian American & Pacific Islander Survey Participation

Research on barriers to survey participation faced by AAPI and strategies to increase participation
  • Funder
    AARP Research
  • Dates
    November 2019 - December 2021


Lack of representation of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations in survey research.

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations are not well represented in survey research. Challenges to adequately representing these groups in national surveys stem not only from the relatively small size of AAPI populations, and the numerous differences between subgroups (for example, the ‘big six’ including Chinese, Vietnamese, are different on many levels than Native Hawaiians or Micronesians), but also linguistic and cultural barriers to survey participation. 


Investigating barriers and identifying effective strategies to increase AAPI survey participation.

NORC conducted research to identify effective and culturally appropriate strategies for increasing AAPI survey participation and meaningful representation in research that account for the diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds of these groups.

NORC examined academic and other publicly available literature to explore issues related to AAPI survey participation. We reviewed theoretical frameworks for understanding the survey participation decision process, as well as cultural variability across countries and explored what is known about AAPI survey participation and methods for contacting and gaining cooperation from this group. 

As a follow-up to the literature review, NORC conducted a series of interviews with experts in survey research, academic researchers, and leaders from community-based organizations (CBOs). The interview focused on two broad topics, barriers or challenges to AAPI survey participation and strategies for increasing their participation.


Actionable insights for increasing AAPI survey participation.

The research identified several barriers to survey participation for AAPI populations. First, many AAPI community members are unfamiliar with surveys, their purpose and the benefits of participation. Further, many do not trust surveys, including government surveys, due to fears that the data will become public and they may experience negative consequences. Also, due to the multiple languages spoken across AAPI communities, many surveys field only in English or in the most common Asian languages.

To increase survey participation among AAPI populations, involve recognized and trusted leaders, experts, and organizations from the community in outreach efforts. Use community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods and collaborate with community leaders from design to the dissemination of findings. Further, although translating into multiple AAPI languages is challenging, prepare culturally responsive translations of both the survey and supporting materials and tailor messaging so that the purpose and benefits of the study to the community are clear.

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