Postal surveys of physicians gave superior response rates over telephone interviews in a randomized trial

J Clin Epidemiol. 2006 May;59(5):521-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.10.009. Epub 2006 Mar 15.


Background and objectives: To compare general practitioner (GP) response to a telephone interview with response to a postal survey with three reminders in a randomized controlled trial.

Methods: GPs were randomly assigned to either a telephone interview or a postal survey. GPs in the telephone group were mailed a letter of invitation and asked to undertake a telephone interview. GPs in the postal group were mailed a letter of invitation and questionnaire. Non-responders were sent up to three reminders, the final by registered post. Response rates were calculated for each group.

Results: 416 GPs were randomized to the telephone interview and 451 to the postal survey. Eighty-six in the telephone group and 30 in the postal were ineligible. One hundred thirty-four GPs completed the telephone interview with a response rate of 40.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 35.3%, 46.1%). Two hundred fifty-two GPs completed the postal survey with a response rate of 59.9% (95%CI: 55.0%, 64.6%). The difference in response was 19.3% (95%CI: 12.2%, 26.3%).

Conclusions: These results show that postal surveys with three reminders can have superior response rates compared with a telephone interview.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chlamydia Infections / therapy
  • Family Practice*
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys / methods
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Male
  • Postal Service*
  • Reminder Systems
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone