Reproducibility and validity of a postal questionnaire. The abdominal symptom study

Scand J Prim Health Care. 1993 Dec;11(4):252-62. doi: 10.3109/02813439308994840.


Objective: To find out whether it is possible to examine abdominal/gastrointestinal symptoms by a postal questionnaire.

Design: In the Abdominal Symptom Study a postal questionnaire was sent to a representative sample of adults (n = 1290) on two occasions, one year apart. The questionnaire was sent a third time to a subsample (n = 110), and to another sample (n = 213) who had not seen the questionnaire before. A subsample (n = 150 of the 1290) was subjected to a medical interview and examination.

Setting: The municipality of Osthammar, Sweden.

Participants: A sample (9.3%) of all Swedish citizens (20-79 yrs) in the municipality.

Main outcome measure: Reproducibility and validity of a postal questionnaire.

Results: The response rate was 90%. Roughly 50% of the study population reported abdominal symptoms. The reproducibility of the results was satisfactory, as was the validity of the questionnaire evaluated by medical interview and examination. Non-responders did not report more symptoms than responders.

Conclusion: It is possible to examine abdominal/gastrointestinal symptoms with a postal questionnaire. The questionnaire used in The Abdominal Symptom Study seems to be useful for this purpose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / diagnosis*
  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Physical Examination
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*
  • Sweden / epidemiology