No difference demonstrated between faxed or mailed prenotification in promoting questionnaire response among family physicians: a randomized controlled trial

J Clin Epidemiol. 2012 May;65(5):544-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.08.014.


Objective: Achieving high survey participation rates among physicians is challenging. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of response-aiding strategies in a postal survey of 1,000 randomly selected Australian family physicians (FPs).

Study design and setting: A two × two randomized controlled trial was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of a mailed vs. faxed prenotification letter and a mailed questionnaire sealed with a label marked attention to doctor vs. a control label. At the time of our final reminder, we randomized remaining nonresponders to receive a more or less personalized mail-out.

Results: Response did not significantly differ among eligible FPs receiving a prenotification letter via mail or fax. However, 25.6% of eligible FPs whose questionnaires were sealed with a label marked attention to the doctor responded before reminders were administered and compared with 18.6% of FPs whose questionnaires were sealed with a control label (P=0.008). Differences were not statistically significant thereafter. There was no significant difference in response between FPs who received a more vs. less personalized approach at the time of the final reminder (P=0.16).

Conclusion: Mail marked attention to doctor may usefully increase early response. Prenotification letters delivered via fax are equally effective to those administered by mail and may be cheaper.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postal Service*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Reminder Systems
  • Selection Bias
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Telefacsimile*
  • Time Factors