Survey instruments are programmed into a system, and interviewers read questions as they appear on a screen and enter the respondent´s answers directly into the computer. CATI allows complex question contingencies, sample management, and call scheduling to be handled automatically.
CATI also affords the opportunity to incorporate randomized experiments (e.g., varying question order, question wording, response options) into surveys. In order to maximize response rates, calls are typically made on varying days of the week at different times to maximize the probability of contacting respondents, and attempts are routinely made to convert initial refusals into completed interviews.
We operate a phone bank with over 40 stations dedicated to our CATI interviewing system. The SRP CATI lab is open 7 days a week to maximize probability of contact with respondents. Data are automatically exported to a statistical analysis package and examined by programmer/data management specialists on a daily basis for additional quality control purposes.