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Health Serv Res. 2001 February; 35(6): 1347–1355.
PMCID: PMC1089194

Reported response rates to mailed physician questionnaires.


OBJECTIVE: To examine response rate information from mailed physician questionnaires reported in published articles. DATA SOURCES/STUDY SETTING: Citations for articles published between 1985 and 1995 were obtained using a key word search of the Medline, PsychLit, and Sociofile databases. STUDY DESIGN: A 5 percent random sample of relevant citations was selected from each year. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS: Citations found to be other than physician surveys were discarded and replaced with the next randomly assigned article. Selected articles were abstracted using a standardized variable list. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The average response rate for mailed physician questionnaires was 61 percent. The average response rate for large sample surveys (> 1,000 observations) was 52 percent. In addition, only 44 percent of the abstracted articles reported a discussion of response bias, and only 54 percent reported any type of follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: (1) Response rates have remained somewhat constant over time, and (2) researchers need to document the efforts used to increase response rates to mailed physician questionnaires.

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Selected References

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  • Asch DA, Jedrziewski MK, Christakis NA. Response rates to mail surveys published in medical journals. J Clin Epidemiol. 1997 Oct;50(10):1129–1136. [PubMed]
  • Berk ML. Interviewing physicians: the effect of improved response rate. Am J Public Health. 1985 Nov;75(11):1338–1340. [PubMed]
  • Cartwright A. Professionals as responders: variations in and effects of response rates to questionnaires, 1961-77. Br Med J. 1978 Nov 18;2(6149):1419–1421. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
  • Gilbert GH, Longmate J, Branch LG. Factors influencing the effectiveness of mailed health surveys. Public Health Rep. 1992 Sep-Oct;107(5):576–584. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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