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Survey Methods

The Survey on Public Opinions and Attitudes on Outdoor Recreation in California (SPOA) has been conducted about every five years since its inception in 1987. The survey methodology and most questions have been relatively consistent through the years, allowing recreation providers to track and address significant recreation trends. Both adult and young people are surveyed. The survey measures participation, latent demand, willingness to pay, importance and use of facilities, motivation, and opinions regarding privatization of services, measurement of physical activity in parks and constraints to physical activity.

In 2008, regional samples were collected for the first time in thirty years, and comparisons between Hispanics and Non-Hispanics were continued. As in 2008, the 2012 youth survey emphasizes activities, reasons for participation, and participation in the Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights activities, such as "play in a safe place".

Survey Details

The 2012 Survey

New for the 2012 survey were questions about quality of life relating to parks and communities and analysis of regional preferences and activities.

The 2012 SPOA used several survey research methods: (1) a telephone survey, (2) an adult mail/online survey, and (3) a youth mail/online survey. The California Polytechnic State University Human Subjects Review Committee-approved the study procedures, which followed a modified Dillman approach to data collection.

Target sample sizes were reached for each of the three surveys conducted in 2012. The telephone survey resulted in 3,080 interviews, with about 1,300 additional subjects completing an online panel for a total sample size of about 4,400 subjects. A total of 1,021 online/mail surveys were completed using both telephone interview contacts and panel participants. Finally, 410 subjects participated in the youth survey. The majority of these youth subjects were panel participants.

2012 Telephone Survey

The 2012 telephone survey was administered to residents of California using a random sample of telephone numbers within the state. Calls were made between April and July 2012 with a target of 3,700 completed interviews. If a potential interview participant was not reached following five phone call attempts, the number was no longer called. The sampling procedure included a request by the interviewer to speak with a member of the household who was 18 years of age or older with the birth date closest to the date of the call. If a Spanish-speaking household was contacted, a subsequent interview was conducted in Spanish. The procedures resulted in 3,080 completed telephone interviews of which 455 were conducted in Spanish. In order to reach the target of 3,700 interviews and to reach quotas for specific subsamples, and about an additional 1,300 surveys were completed using an online panel during August 2012. Thus, the total sample size for the telephone survey was about 4,400.

2012 Adult Mail/Online Survey

Following participation in the telephone survey, each interviewee was asked to complete a second survey via mail or online. A $1 bill was provided as an incentive to complete the survey. The incentive was explained to the participant over the telephone. A total of 1,587 (51.5%) participants agreed to complete the mail survey. The mail survey packet included: A cover letter explaining the purpose of the survey, contact information for any potential questions, a hard copy of the mail survey, a postage-paid return envelope, and the $1 bill incentive.

Participants were given the option to complete the survey online. A link to the survey as well as a unique login ID and password were provided in the cover letter. Participants also had the option to receive the link to the online version of the mail survey immediately by email. Within 24 hours an email was sent that contained the link to the survey. Each participant was sent the entire mail packet since it included the $1 incentive. Of those 1,587 who agreed to complete the survey, 320 (20.2%) completed and returned it (254 returned by mail and 66 completed it online). Spanish speaking households were sent a Spanish version of the mail survey packet.

Approximately three weeks after the initial mail packet was sent, all participants were mailed a reminder postcard about the importance of their participation in the study. Contact information for IntelliQ (phone and email) was provided on the reminder postcard in the event the participant did not receive the packet.

The roughly 1,300 online panel members who completed the telephone survey also had the option of participating in the mail/online survey. Four hundred eighty five of these individuals (35.8%) completed the mail/online survey. In addition, online panel members who did not complete the telephone survey completed 216 online/mail surveys for a total sample of 1,021 respondents for the online/mail survey.

In summary, the overall data collection procedures for the adult survey resulted in about 4,400 participants in the telephone survey and 1,021 participants in the mail/online survey.

Overall, the sample surveyed was representative of each region within generally a 95% confidence level with a confidence interval of +/- 5%. The sample was representative of males and females, and contained a range of age groups from 18 years of age to 65 and older. Further, the majority of those sampled specified their household as "White", however the sample did include households of Hispanic or Latino of Mexican descent, Other Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Black or African American, some other race, or American Indian or Alaska Native. Approximately half of those surveyed were married, and the sample also included those who were single, divorced, widowed, living with a partner, or separated. One-third of the sample identified having no children living with no children under 18 at home, however, an equal number identified having children under the age of 18 living in their home. The sample is, in general, well-educated, with approximately half having either some college but no degree, or holding a bachelor's degree. A majority is employed either full or part-time, and has lived in their community for an average of 18 years.

Respondents from seven California regions were targeted for the survey: North California (Shasta, Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake, Tehama, Siskiyou, Lassen, Del Norte, Glenn, Plumas, Trinity, Modoc and Sierra Counties), Sierra (Nevada, Placer, El Dorado, Amador, Alpine, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mono, Inyo and Mariposa Counties), Central Valley (Butte, Yuba, Sutter, Colusa, Yolo, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern Counties), Greater San Francisco Bay Area (Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Marin, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties), Central Coast (Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties), Los Angeles (Ventura and Los Angeles Counties), and Southern California (San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, San Diego and Imperial Counties).

The percentage from the surveyed population from each region closely matches the percentage of the total population in each region, according to California US Census data from 2010. The sample size with a particular percent confidence interval set at the 95% confidence level will produce answers that are 95 times out of 100 within plus or minus the number of percentage points of the answer that would be produced if asked of the entire population.

2012 Youth Mail/Online Survey

During the Adult telephone interview, participants were asked if there were any children between the ages of 12-17 living in the household. If so, the parent or legal guardian of the child was asked permission to send the child a youth survey through the mail. Children who returned the completed youth survey received a $5 check as an incentive. If the parent/guardian gave permission, a copy of the youth survey as well as an additional postage paid envelope was included with the adult mail packet (note: If the adult did not agree to complete the mail survey but gave permission for the child to complete the survey, the mail packet only contained the youth survey information but was still addressed to the parent). A youth cover letter was also sent that explained the survey, included contact information, and requested signatures of both the parent and child. Two copies of the youth cover letter were sent - one copy to sign and return with the youth mail survey and one copy to keep. Spanish speaking households were sent a Spanish version of the youth survey. Postcard reminders were sent following the same procedures as employed in the adult mail/online survey.

A total of 456 (22.8%) participants reported having children 12 to 17 years of age living in the household. Of these households, 304 (66.7%) agreed to complete the youth mail survey. Youth also had the option of completing the survey online. A link to the survey as well as a unique login ID and password was provided in the cover letter. Youth also had the option of receiving the link to the online version of the mail survey immediately by email. Within 24 hours an email was sent that contained the link to the survey (emails with the link were sent directly to the parent/guardian). Of the families with youth that agreed to complete the survey, 22 completed and returned it (17 mailed the survey back and 5 completed it online).

As expected, the percentage of households with youth ages 12-17 in the telephone sample was not adequate to collect a target of 400 youth mail/online surveys. For this reason, along with the lower than expected return rate for the youth mail survey, an online youth panel was used to complete 388 surveys. Data collection for the panel took place in August 2012.

Since this panel data could not be linked to telephone interviews several demographic questions were added to the survey (race/ethnicity, county and zip code). The online panel vendor sent email invitations to youth ages 12-17 in the defined regions. The total youth sample size was 410 respondents.

2012 Youth Socio-Demographics

Socio-demographic data collected on youth respondents included: gender, age, household ethnicity, and residence. The sample of youth was nearly evenly split, with a slight majority female (52.7%) and ages ranging from 12 to 17 years. A majority of respondents reported white ethnicity (44%), 23 percent Hispanic, Latino, or Mexican descent, and Asian (22.4%). The majority of participants were from Southern California (31%), and Los Angeles (29%). Respondents also represented a range of California counties, with a majority from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange counties.