Randomized trial of 5 dollars versus 10 dollars monetary incentives, envelope size, and candy to increase physician response rates to mailed questionnaires.

Published

Journal Article

BACKGROUND:The validity of the results of mailed surveys is often threatened by nonresponse bias, which is made more likely when response rates are low. However, the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of several strategies to increase response rates are uncertain. OBJECTIVES:To assess three strategies to increase response rates to mailed physician surveys: including a 10 dollars versus a 5 dollars cash incentive in the initial mailing, including a mint candy or not, and using a large versus small outgoing envelope. RESEARCH DESIGN AND SUBJECTS:Using a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design, a randomized trial of these strategies was conducted in a survey of 1200 physicians randomly selected from the American Medical Association's Master File. RESULTS:Including a 10 dollars incentive yielded a significantly higher response rate (60.5% vs. 52.8%) (P = 0.009). The mailing and incentive costs per completed response were 12.24 dollars (95% CI, 11.75 dollars, 13.64 dollars) in the 5 dollars group and 18.48 dollars (95% CI, 17.77 dollars, 20.69 dollars) in the 10 dollars group. Each additional response obtained in the 10 dollars group came at an incremental cost of 61.26 dollars (95% CI, 36.98 dollars, 200.80 dollars). Neither inclusion of a mint nor use of a large envelope influenced the response rate. CONCLUSIONS:Investigators may increase response rates by including more money in the initial questionnaire packet, but there may be diminishing returns to serial increments in incentives greater than 5 dollars. Including smaller incentives in more questionnaires may maximize total responses.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Halpern, SD; Ubel, PA; Berlin, JA; Asch, DA

Published Date

  • September 2002

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 834 - 839

PubMed ID

  • 12218773

Pubmed Central ID

  • 12218773

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-1948

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0025-7079

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/01.mlr.0000024722.29926.3d

Language

  • eng