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Mixed contact methods to improve response to a postal questionnaire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

D. Weston, V. Parsons, G. Ntani, L. Rushton, I. Madan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-307
Number of pages3
JournalOccupational Medicine
Volume67
Issue number4
Early online date24 Mar 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press21 Dec 2016
E-pub ahead of print24 Mar 2017

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Abstract

Background Postal questionnaires remain an important method of collecting data in trials. However, a high non-response rate can lead to biases, which may undermine the validity of the study.

Aim We describe a simple method of improving response rates in an occupational health trial evaluating an intervention to prevent hand dermatitis in nurses.

Methods The trial employed questionnaires at t=0, t=1 month and t=12 months. The t=1 month questionnaire was posted to study participants (student and intensive care nurses) together with a free postage reply envelope. After two weeks an email was sent to non-responders reinforcing the need for completed questionnaires to be returned. Two weeks later non-responders were sent another hard copy of the questionnaire, along with an accompanying letter. Six weeks after posting the initial questionnaires non-responders were sent a short message service (SMS) text message or were telephoned to remind them to return the questionnaire.

Results The response rates for the 744 student nurses were 8% (no reminder), 27% (after first reminder), 22% (after second reminder) and 27% (after the third reminder) resulting in a response rate of 63%. The response rates for the 959 intensive care nurses were 9% (no reminder), 24% (after first reminder), 24% (after second reminder) and 31% (after third reminder) resulting in a final response rate of 63%.
Conclusion We found that a series of regular reminders including a third, personalised reminder by SMS text or telephone had a positive impact on non-responders.

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