BACKGROUND: Non-response analysis is often restricted to the influence of age, sex and socio-economic status on response status. In this study the health status of responders and non-responders was also compared. RESULTS: Responders were comparable to non-responders with regard to the number of diagnosed disorders as well as to the prevalences of disorders within body systems. Non-responders only showed psychological disorders more often. CONCLUSION: It is useful to assess the relation between non-response and morbidity patterns in other studies as well, in order to detect selective non-response and bias.