Open Access

Response Burden and Dropout in a Probability-Based Online Panel Study – A Comparison between an App and Browser-Based Design


Survey respondents can complete web surveys using different Internet-enabled devices (PCs versus mobile phones and tablets) and using different software (web browser versus a mobile software application, “app”). Previous research has found that completing questionnaires via a browser on mobile devices can lead to higher breakoff rates and reduced measurement quality compared to using PCs, especially where questionnaires have not been adapted for mobile administration. A key explanation is that using a mobile browser is more burdensome and less enjoyable for respondents. There are reasons to assume apps should perform better than browsers, but so far, there have been few attempts to assess this empirically. In this study, we investigate variation in experienced burden across device and software in wave 1 of a three-wave panel study, comparing an app with a browser-based survey, in which sample members were encouraged to use a mobile device. We also assess device/software effects on participation at wave 2. We find that compared to mobile browser respondents, app respondents were less likely to drop out of the study after the first wave and the effect of the device used was mediated by subjective burden experienced during wave 1.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Mathematics, Probability and Statistics