Tailored Strategies to Enhance Survey Response among Proxies of Deceased Patients

Health Serv Res. 2018 Oct;53(5):3825-3835. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.12991. Epub 2018 Jun 3.


Objective: To enhance proxy survey responses for deceased cancer patients.

Data sources: Two waves of surveys about care experiences of cancer chemotherapy patients (used for a value-based purchasing initiative), collected November 2016 through March 2017.

Study design: Surveys were mailed to deceased patients (for proxy response) in the untailored first survey wave, and using a tailored strategy in the second wave. We compared proxy responses for deceased patients with and without the tailored approach.

Principal findings: A tailored survey approach improved the proxy response rate from 17.6 percent to 39.0 percent.

Conclusions: Simple tailoring strategies can significantly enhance proxy response rates when surveying patients in a high mortality population. However, we were unable to address the impact of higher proxy response rates on response bias since we surveyed different patients in each wave.

Keywords: Tailored patient survey; cancer care experience; deceased patients; proxy response rate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Proxy*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*