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Improving response rates using a monetary incentive for patient completion of questionnaires: an observational study

Brealey, Stephen D., Atwell, Christine, Bryan, Stirling, Coulton, Simon, Cox, Helen, Cross, Ben, Fylan, Fiona, Garratt, Andrew, Gilbert, Fiona J., Gillan, Maureen G. C., Hendry, Maggie, Hood, Kerenza, Houston, Helen, King, David, Morton, Veronica, Orchard, Jo, Robling, Michael, Russell, Ian T., Torgerson, David, Wadsworth, Valerie and Wilkinson, Clare (2007) Improving response rates using a monetary incentive for patient completion of questionnaires: an observational study. BMC Medical Research Methodology. 12. pp. 1-5. ISSN 1471-2288

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Abstract

Background: Poor response rates to postal questionnaires can introduce bias and reduce the statistical power of a study. To improve response rates in our trial in primary care we tested the effect of introducing an unconditional direct payment of 5 pound for the completion of postal questionnaires. Methods: We recruited patients in general practice with knee problems from sites across the United Kingdom. An evidence-based strategy was used to follow-up patients at twelve months with postal questionnaires. This included an unconditional direct payment of 5 pound to patients for the completion and return of questionnaires. The first 105 patients did not receive the 5 pound incentive, but the subsequent 442 patients did. We used logistic regression to analyse the effect of introducing a monetary incentive to increase the response to postal questionnaires. Results: The response rate following reminders for the historical controls was 78.1% ( 82 of 105) compared with 88.0% ( 389 of 442) for those patients who received the 5 pound payment (diff = 9.9%, 95% CI 2.3% to 19.1%). Direct payments significantly increased the odds of response ( adjusted odds ratio = 2.2, 95% CI 1.2 to 4.0, P = 0.009) with only 12 of 442 patients declining the payment. The incentive did not save costs to the trial - the extra cost per additional respondent was almost 50 pound. Conclusion: The direct payment of 5 pound significantly increased the completion of postal questionnaires at negligible increase in cost for an adequately powered study.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2007 Brealey et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 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.
Keywords: RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIALS, PRIMARY-CARE
Academic Units: The University of York > Health Sciences (York)
Depositing User: Sherpa Assistant
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2008 15:23
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2013 14:17
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2288-7-12
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2609

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