No difference demonstrated between faxed or mailed prenotification in promoting questionnaire response among family physicians: A randomized controlled trial

Melina Gattellari*, Nicholas Zwar, John M. Worthington

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Achieving high survey participation rates among physicians is challenging. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of response-aiding strategies in a postal survey of 1,000 randomly selected Australian family physicians (FPs). Study Design and Setting: A two × two randomized controlled trial was undertaken to assess the effectiveness of a mailed vs. faxed prenotification letter and a mailed questionnaire sealed with a label marked attention to doctor vs. a control label. At the time of our final reminder, we randomized remaining nonresponders to receive a more or less personalized mail-out. Results: Response did not significantly differ among eligible FPs receiving a prenotification letter via mail or fax. However, 25.6% of eligible FPs whose questionnaires were sealed with a label marked attention to the doctor responded before reminders were administered and compared with 18.6% of FPs whose questionnaires were sealed with a control label (P = 0.008). Differences were not statistically significant thereafter. There was no significant difference in response between FPs who received a more vs. less personalized approach at the time of the final reminder (P = 0.16). Conclusion: Mail marked attention to doctor may usefully increase early response. Prenotification letters delivered via fax are equally effective to those administered by mail and may be cheaper.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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