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Postal surveys of physicians gave superior response rates over telephone interviews in a randomized trial.

Hocking JS, Lim MS, Read T, Hellard M

  • Journal Journal of clinical epidemiology

  • Published 15 Mar 2006

  • Volume 59

  • ISSUE 5

  • Pagination 521-4

  • DOI 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.10.009


To compare general practitioner (GP) response to a telephone interview with response to a postal survey with three reminders in a randomized controlled trial.

GPs were randomly assigned to either a telephone interview or a postal survey. GPs in the telephone group were mailed a letter of invitation and asked to undertake a telephone interview. GPs in the postal group were mailed a letter of invitation and questionnaire. Non-responders were sent up to three reminders, the final by registered post. Response rates were calculated for each group.

416 GPs were randomized to the telephone interview and 451 to the postal survey. Eighty-six in the telephone group and 30 in the postal were ineligible. One hundred thirty-four GPs completed the telephone interview with a response rate of 40.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 35.3%, 46.1%). Two hundred fifty-two GPs completed the postal survey with a response rate of 59.9% (95%CI: 55.0%, 64.6%). The difference in response was 19.3% (95%CI: 12.2%, 26.3%).

These results show that postal surveys with three reminders can have superior response rates compared with a telephone interview.