Mixed contact methods to improve response to a postal questionnaire

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background Postal questionnaires remain an important method of collecting data in trials. However, a high nonresponse rate can lead to biases, which may undermine the validity of the study. Aims To assess a simple method of trying to improve 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 2 weeks, an e-mail 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 an 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%. Conclusions We found that a series of regular reminders including a third, personalized reminder by SMS text or telephone had a positive impact on non-responders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberkqx032
Pages (from-to)305-307
Number of pages3
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine. All rights reserved.


  • Nurses
  • Occupational health
  • Responses rates
  • Students
  • Trials


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