Background: Data from surveys of patient care experiences are a cornerstone of public reporting and pay-for-performance initiatives. Recently, increasing concerns have been raised about survey response rates and how to promote equity by ensuring that responses represent the perspectives of all patients.
Objective: Review evidence on survey administration strategies to improve response rates and representativeness of patient surveys.
Research design: Systematic review adhering to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.
Study selection: Forty peer-reviewed randomized experiments of administration protocols for patient experience surveys.
Results: Mail administration with telephone follow-up provides a median response rate benefit of 13% compared with mail-only or telephone-only. While surveys administered only by web typically result in lower response rates than those administered by mail or telephone (median difference in response rate: -21%, range: -44%, 0%), the limited evidence for a sequential web-mail-telephone mode suggests a potential response rate benefit over sequential mail-telephone (median: 4%, range: 2%, 5%). Telephone-only and sequential mixed modes including telephone may yield better representation across patient subgroups by age, insurance type, and race/ethnicity. Monetary incentives are associated with large increases in response rates (median increase: 12%, range: 7%, 20%).
Conclusions: Sequential mixed-mode administration yields higher patient survey response rates than a single mode. Including telephone in sequential mixed-mode administration improves response among those with historically lower response rates; including web in mixed-mode administration may increase response at lower cost. Other promising strategies to improve response rates include in-person survey administration during hospital discharge, incentives, minimizing survey language complexity, and prenotification before survey administration.
Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.