Effects of characteristics of the survey instrument on response rates to a mail survey of community hospitals

Public Health Rep. 1982 Sep-Oct;97(5):465-9.


A 4-factor, 16-cell experimental design was used to investigate the relationship between response rates of community hospitals to a survey conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) and 4 characteristics of the survey instrument, each varied dichotomously: the perceived length of the questionnaire, the order of questions, the orientation of the appeal made in the cover letter, and the presence or absence of a promise to share the results of the study with respondents. Response rate variations between the various cells were examined and multiple logistic regression was used to analyze the significance of the association between response rates and each of the four survey instrument variables while controlling for the effect of the others. At the same time, control was also maintained for the effects of five institutional characteristics of hospitals which a previous study had shown to have a significant relationship to response: bed size, location within or outside a standard metropolitan statistical area, AHA membership status, type of ownership, and form of control. The perceived length of the questionnaire and the order of questions were found to have a significant effect on response rates, but the orientation of the cover letter and a promise to share the results of the study with the respondents were found to be insignificant.

MeSH terms

  • American Hospital Association*
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Hospitals, Community*
  • United States