Survey response rates

CME providers should be savvy about response rates…we crank out a lot of surveys.  So what’s the most effective survey format?  Is it email, fax, regular mail or some combination thereof?  And, outside of format, what can be done to improve response rates?

Unfortunately, we CME providers are not very good at aggregating the results of our survey efforts.  Thus, with little more than anecdotal evidence, we’re forced to nod in agreement with whatever a senior CME colleague states when pressed with such questions.

Until we organize our data, I’ll recommend the following systematic review:

  • VanGeest JB, et al. Methodolgies for improving Response Rates in Surveys of Physicians. Evaluation & the Health Professions 2007;30:303-21. (abstract)

Here’s the quick synopsis…postal or telephone surveys are better than fax or web.  And any of the following are associated with higher response rates: brief questionnaires, endorsements by professional associations, and direct monetary incentives (as low as $1).

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