The effect of two lottery-style incentives on response rates to postal questionnaires in a prospective cohort study in preschool children at high risk of asthma: a randomized trial

LB van der Mark, KE van Wonderen, J Mohrs, Patrick Bindels, MA Puhan, G ter Riet

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Abstract

Background: In research with long-term follow-up and repeated measurements, quick and complete response to questionnaires helps ensure a study's validity, precision and efficiency. Evidence on the effect of non-monetary incentives on response rates in observational longitudinal research is scarce. Objectives: To study the impact of two strategies to enhance completeness and efficiency in observational cohort studies with follow-up durations of around 2 years. Method and intervention: In a factorial design, 771 children between 2 and 5 years old and their parents participating in a prospective cohort study were randomized to three intervention groups and a control group. Three types of lotteries were run: (i) daytrip tickets for the whole family to a popular amusement park if they returned all postal questionnaires, (ii) (sic)12.50-worth gift vouchers for sending back the questionnaire on time after each questionnaire round and (iii) a combination of Main outcome measures: Primary outcome was the proportion of participants who returned all questionnaires without any reminder. Secondary outcomes were '100% returned with or without reminder', 'probability of 100% non-response', 'probability of withdrawal', 'proportion of returned questionnaires' and 'overall number of reminders sent'. Statistical analysis: After testing for interaction between the two lottery interventions, the two trials were analysed separately. We calculated risk differences (RD) and numbers needed to "treat" and their 95% confidence intervals. Results: Daytrip nor voucher intervention had an effect on the proportion of participants who returned all questionnaires (RD -0.01; 95% CI-0.07 - 0.06) and (RD 0.02; 95% CI-0.50 - 0.08), respectively. No effects were found on the secondary outcomes. Conclusion: Our findings do not support the idea that lottery-style incentives lead to more complete response to postal questionnaires in observational cohort studies with repeated data collection and follow-up durations of around 2 years.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-02-67-01

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