Reported response rates to mailed physician questionnaires

Health Serv Res. 2001 Feb;35(6):1347-55.


Objective: To examine response rate information from mailed physician questionnaires reported in published articles.

Data sources/study setting: Citations for articles published between 1985 and 1995 were obtained using a key word search of the Medline, PsychLit, and Sociofile databases.

Study design: A 5 percent random sample of relevant citations was selected from each year.

Data collection/extraction methods: Citations found to be other than physician surveys were discarded and replaced with the next randomly assigned article. Selected articles were abstracted using a standardized variable list.

Principal findings: The average response rate for mailed physician questionnaires was 61 percent. The average response rate for large sample surveys (> 1,000 observations) was 52 percent. In addition, only 44 percent of the abstracted articles reported a discussion of response bias, and only 54 percent reported any type of follow-up.

Conclusions: (1) Response rates have remained somewhat constant over time, and (2) researchers need to document the efforts used to increase response rates to mailed physician questionnaires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*