Reducing questionnaire length did not improve physician response rate: a randomized trial

EE Bolt, Agnes van der Heide, BD Onwuteaka-Philipsen

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine the effect of reducing questionnaire length on the response rate in a physician survey. Study Design and Setting: A postal four double-page questionnaire on end-of-life decision making was sent to a random sample of 1,100 general practitioners, 400 elderly care physicians, and 500 medical specialists. Another random sample of 500 medical specialists received a shorter questionnaire of two double pages. After 3 months and one reminder, all nonresponding physicians received an even shorter questionnaire of one double page. Results: Total response was 64% (1,456 of 2,269 eligible respondents). Response rate of medical specialists for the four double-page questionnaire was equal to that of the two double-page questionnaire (190 and 191 questionnaires were returned, respectively). The total response rate increased from 53% to 64% after sending a short one double-page questionnaire (1,203-1,456 respondents). Conclusion: The results of our study suggest that reducing the length of a long questionnaire in a physician survey does not necessarily improve response rate. To improve response rate and gather more information, researchers could decide to send a drastically shortened version of the questionnaire to nonresponders. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)477-481
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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