Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Loughborough University Institutional Repository

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/19248

Title: Effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on response rate to a complex postal survey: randomised controlled trial
Authors: Sahlqvist, Shannon
Song, Yena
Bull, Fiona C.
Adams, Emma J.
Preston, John
Ogilvie, David
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd. (© 2011 Sahlqvist et al)
Citation: SAHLQVIST, S. ... et al, 2011. Effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on response rate to a complex postal survey: randomised controlled trial. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 11 (62), 8pp.
Abstract: Background: Minimising participant non-response in postal surveys helps to maximise the generalisability of the inferences made from the data collected. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of questionnaire length, personalisation and reminder type on postal survey response rate and quality and to compare the cost-effectiveness of the alternative survey strategies. Methods: In a pilot study for a population study of travel behaviour, physical activity and the environment, 1000 participants sampled from the UK edited electoral register were randomly allocated using a 2 × 2 factorial design to receive one of four survey packs: a personally addressed long (24 page) questionnaire pack, a personally addressed short (15 page) questionnaire pack, a non-personally addressed long questionnaire pack or a non-personally addressed short questionnaire pack. Those who did not return a questionnaire were stratified by initial randomisation group and further randomised to receive either a full reminder pack or a reminder postcard. The effects of the survey design factors on response were examined using multivariate logistic regression. Results: An overall response rate of 17% was achieved. Participants who received the short version of the questionnaire were more likely to respond (OR = 1.48, 95% CI 1.06 to 2.07). In those participants who received a reminder, personalisation of the survey pack and reminder also increased the odds of response (OR = 1.44, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.95). Item non-response was relatively low, but was significantly higher in the long questionnaire than the short (9.8% vs 5.8%; p = .04). The cost per additional usable questionnaire returned of issuing the reminder packs was £23.1 compared with £11.3 for the reminder postcards. Conclusions: In contrast to some previous studies of shorter questionnaires, this trial found that shortening a relatively lengthy questionnaire significantly increased the response. Researchers should consider the trade off between the value of additional questions and a larger sample. If low response rates are expected, personalisation may be an important strategy to apply. Sending a full reminder pack to non-respondents appears a worthwhile, albeit more costly, strategy.
Description: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Sponsor: This paper was written on behalf of the iConnect consortium (http://www.iconnect.ac.uk; Christian Brand, Fiona Bull, Ashley Cooper, Andy Day, Nanette Mutrie, David Ogilvie, Jane Powell, John Preston and Harry Rutter). The iConnect consortium is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (grant reference EP/G00059X/1).
Version: Published
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-62
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/19248
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-11-62
ISSN: 1471-2288
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

Files associated with this item:

File Description SizeFormat
2011 Sahlqvist BMCMedResMeth Survey RCT.pdfPublished version566.52 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

 

SFX Query

Items in DSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.