Publications & Reports

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

Hocking JS, Lim MS, Read T, Hellard M
Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health Research, Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health and the School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. [email protected]


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: To compare general practitioner (GP) response to a telephone interview with response to a postal survey with three reminders in a randomized controlled trial. METHODS: 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. RESULTS: 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%). CONCLUSIONS: These results show that postal surveys with three reminders can have superior response rates compared with a telephone interview.


  • Journal: Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
  • Published: 01/05/2006
  • Volume: 59
  • Issue: 5
  • Pagination: 521-524