What impact do questionnaire length and monetary incentives have on mailed health psychology survey response?

Robb, K. A. , Gatting, L. and Wardle, J. (2017) What impact do questionnaire length and monetary incentives have on mailed health psychology survey response? British Journal of Health Psychology, 22(4), pp. 671-685. (doi: 10.1111/bjhp.12239) (PMID:28422369) (PMCID:PMC5655741)

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Objectives: Response rates to health-related surveys are declining. This study tested two strategies to improve the response rate to a health psychology survey mailed through English general practices: (1) sending a shortened questionnaire and (2) offering a monetary incentive to return a completed questionnaire. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Methods: Adults (n = 4,241) aged 45–59 years, from four General Practices in South-East England, were mailed a survey on attitudes towards bowel cancer screening. Using a 2 × 4 factorial design, participants were randomized to receive a ‘short’ (four A4 pages) or a ‘long’ (seven A4 pages) questionnaire, and one of four monetary incentives to return a completed questionnaire – (1) no monetary incentive, (2) £2.50 shop voucher, (3) £5.00 shop voucher, and (4) inclusion in a £250 shop voucher prize draw. Age, gender, and area-level deprivation were obtained from the General Practices. Results: The overall response rate was 41% (n = 1,589). Response to the ‘short’ questionnaire (42%) was not significantly different from the ‘long’ questionnaire (40%). The £2.50 incentive (43%) significantly improved response rates in univariate analyses, and remained significant after controlling for age, gender, area-level deprivation, and questionnaire length. The £5.00 (42%) and £250 prize draw (41%) incentives had no significant impact on response rates compared to no incentive (38%). Conclusions: A small monetary incentive (£2.50) may slightly increase response to a mailed health psychology survey. The length of the questionnaire (four pages vs. seven pages) did not influence response. Although frequently used, entry into a prize draw did not increase response. Achieving representative samples remains a challenge for health psychology.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robb, Professor Katie and Gatting, Ms Lauren
Authors: Robb, K. A., Gatting, L., and Wardle, J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
Journal Name:British Journal of Health Psychology
ISSN (Online):2044-8287
Published Online:19 April 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in British Journal of Health Psychology 22(4): 671-685
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
623641"Analytic" and "emotional" information processing: implications for public understanding of cancerKathryn RobbCancer Research UK (CAN-RES-UK)8933IHW - MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING