Ethnicity, but not cancer family history, is related to response to a population-based mailed questionnaire

Ann Epidemiol. 2004 Jan;14(1):36-43. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(03)00073-5.


Purpose: To determine if family history and ethnic background are factors affecting response to a mailed cancer family history questionnaire from the Ontario Familial Breast Cancer Registry.

Methods: Individuals diagnosed with primary invasive breast carcinomas (probands) were mailed a family history questionnaire, the first contact in a multi-stage process. This questionnaire obtained cancer family history and ethnicity data. After one month, a follow up telephone call was made to those who did not return this questionnaire and attempts were made to ask similar questions by telephone interview. Characteristics of those responding to the mailed questionnaire were compared to those who responded to the telephone interview only.

Results: 339 probands were included in this study: 242 returned a mailed version of the questionnaire; 57 completed the questionnaire over the phone. Cancer family history/genetic risk criteria was not significantly related to type of response. Probands identifying themselves as visible minorities were significantly less likely to respond to the mailed questionnaire than the telephone interview (11.6% vs. 22.8%, P=0.03).

Conclusions: Having a family history of cancer did not appear to influence response to a mailed questionnaire, but those reporting an ethnic/racial background other than White were more likely to respond to a telephone interview.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Family Health / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / ethnology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Registries
  • Reminder Systems
  • Risk Factors
  • SEER Program*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*