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Table 1 Details of included studies

From: The effectiveness of recruitment strategies on general practitioner’s survey response rates – a systematic review

Study ID Aims of study Study sample Study topic Study design Total number of subjects in study (N) Control (n) Intervention (n) Country
Akl et al., 2011 [41] Assess the effect of 1) tracking responses and 2) day of mailing (Monday vs Friday) on physician survey response rate Directors of Family Medicine residency programs (ie GPs) Training of residents in implementation of clinical guidelines Two by two factorial randomized design 456 No tracking n = 228, Monday mailing n = 228 Tracking n = 228, Friday mailing n = 228 USA
Asch et al., 1998 [26] To evaluate the effect of incentive size by providing physicians either a $5 bill or a $2 bill. Primary care physicians identified from the American Medical Association Physician Master File Attitudes about cost containment in cancer screening. RCT 1000 $2 cash incentive received in initial mailing n = 500 $5 cash incentive received in initial mailing n = 500 USA
Baron et al., 2001 [29] To evaluate the cost effectiveness of a lottery on physicians response rates to a mail survey. Family Doctors identified from membership list of the Quebec Federation of GPs The determinants of influenza immunization among family physicians in Quebec. RCT 1000 No lottery n = 500 Lottery n = 500 Canada
Bonevskiet al., 2011 [40] To examine the efficacy of two strategies for improving general practitioner response to a survey and a secondary aim was to assess GPs self reported preferred mode of survey administration. GPs practising in NSW selected from the Australasian Medical Publishing Company database. The knowledge, attitudes and practices of GPs around vitamin D. RCT 334 (Cover letter trial), 1166 (Telephone reminder trial) Standard cover letter N = 167, No telephone reminder n = 576 Standard letter plus local division of general practice cover letter n = 167, Telephone reminder n = 590 Australia
Deehan et al., 1997 [11] To explore the effects of financial and non-financial inducements on response rates to increase the overall response rate. A random sample of all GP’s in England and Wales. Survey on GP’s work and attitudes with alcohol misusing patients. Five arm parallel trial design with randomization 3584 No inducement n = 1188 £5 charity donation n = 607, £10 charity donation n = 578, £5cash payment n = 613, £10 cash payment n = 598, (Total for all interventions n = 2396) UK
Drummond et al., 2008 [34] To investigate the effect of two low cost interventions (pre-contact and questionnaire order) on response to a primary care physician postal survey Primary care physicians working in Ireland identified from various sources. A national survey assessing views and practices of physicians regarding prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing. Two by two factorial randomized design 1599 No pre-contact n = 743, Version 2 survey (Topic specific questions first) n = 744 Pre-contact n = 715, Version 1 survey (general questions first) n = 714 Ireland
Everett et al., 1997 [28] To examine the effectiveness of $1 incentive on response rates Family Physicians Firearm-safety counseling beliefs RCT 600 No incentive n=300 $1 bill n=300 USA
Gattellari et al., 2012 [13] Assess effectiveness of two response-aiding strategies in a postal survey GPs known to be in current practice Management of nonvalvular atrial fibrillation Two by two factorial randomized control trial 1000 Mail prompt n = 500, Coloured seal without text n = 500 Fax prompt n = 500, Coloured seal + text n = 500 Australia
Gupta et al., 1997 [39] To determine the effectiveness of a telephone prompt by a medical researcher compared to a nonmedical research assistant in improving survey response rate of GP’s, and to compare personnel costs. A national random sample of Australian GPs A national survey assessing GPs views of clinical practice guidelines RCT 404 Telephone prompt by a medical researcher n = 202 Telephone prompt by experienced nonmedical research assistant n = 202 Australia
Hocking et al., 2006 [35] To compare GP response to a telephone interview with response to a postal survey with three reminders. A random sample of Victorian GPs Survey to assess knowledge and diagnostic and management practices of genital chlamydia infection. RCT 867 Postal survey n = 451 Telephone interview n = 416 Australia
James et al., 2011 [27] To study the effects of payment timing, form of payment and requiring a social security number (SSN) on survey response rates. Practising US physicians ages 65 and under representing all specialties (including primary care), selected from the AMA Physician Masterfile Survey on ethical and moral beliefs. Four arm parallel design with randomization 443 Promised $US25 check requiring SSN n = 102 Immediate $US25 cash n = 129, Immediate $US25 check n = 97, Promised $US25 check not requiring SSN n = 115 USA
McLaren and Shelley 2000 [30] To compare effect of a primer telephone call and postcard on GP response rate; and to compare the effect of informing GPs about a prize for participating in survey compared to not informing GPs of the prize. Victorian GPs Management issues surrounding early pregnancy bleeding and miscarriage Two by two factorial design with randomization 621 Telephone n=305 No prize notification N=310 Postcard n=316Prize notification n=311 Australia
Maheux et al., 1989 [42] To determine the response rates of Quebec physicians by sending a handwritten thank you letter and by sending a more personalized mailout package. Quebec Physicians To determine the level of physicians support for a number of patient care issues. RCT Second mailing N = 356, Third mailing N = 253 No handwritten postscript n = 186, Non-personalised mailout n = 127 Handwritten postscript n = 170, Personalised mailout n = 126 Canada
Olivarius and Andreasen, 1995 [43] To test a possible day the week effect on doctors response rate to a postal questionnaire. GPs A nationwide survey on doctors’ attitude on the relative importance of general practice and the specialties in the treatment of general diseases and diseases commonly regarded as belonging to the specialties. RCT 200 Dispatch of survey on Thursday (for receipt before weekend) n = 98 Dispatch of survey on Saturday (for receipt after weekend) n = 102 Denmark
Pedrana et al., 2008 [44] To compare response rates to postal surveys sent by normal post and registered mail and to assess the cost implications of the two mailing methods. General practitioners in Victoria. To assess antenatal screening practices in Australia RCT 1550 Normal mail n = 775 Registered mail n = 775 Australia
Pirotta et al., 1999 [38] To measure the effect of a primer postcard to improve mailed survey response rates. Victorian GPs who had at least 1500 consultations in 1995-96 General Practitioners attitudes to complementary therapies. RCT 800 No primer postcard n = 400 Primer postcard n = 400 Australia
Pit et al., 2013 [25] To assess the effectiveness of small non-conditional non-financial incentive (ie attractive pen) on survey response rates Practicing GPs in Northern Rivers region of NSW How to improve sustainable employment of ageing GPs in rural Australia RCT 125 No pen incentive n = 62 Pen incentive n = 63 Australia
Robertson et al., 2005 [31] To test the effect of a $AUD2 scratch lottery ticket on response rates A random sample GP’s and specialists from the medical directory of Australia. To explore the uptake of 19 new drugs into the clinical practices of Australian GPs and specialists. RCT 464 No lottery n = 232 AUD$2 scratch lottery n = 232 Australia
Scott et al., 2011[24] To compare effects and costs of three different modes of survey administration in a national survey of Doctors A stratified random sample of doctors undertaking clinical practice from a national directory of all doctors in Australia. Stratification was by doctor type and rural/remote category. Study of the dynamics of the medical labour market in Australia, focusing on workforce participation and its determinants among Australian doctors. 3-arm parallel trial design with randomisation 1091 Online survey, followed by reminder letter with login details n = 369 Sequential mixed mode -online survey, followed by reminder letter with paper survey n = 388, Simultaneous mixed mode -paper survey and login details sent together, with reminder letter with login details n = 334 Australia
Seguin et al., 2004 [37] To compare email with regular mail for conducting surveys of family physicians. A random sample of physicians listed in the college of family physicians of Canada’s database who had an email address Survey on use of sildenafil citrate (Viagra) RCT 2397 Survey delivered by post to the physicians without email n = 800 Survey delivered by email n = 798, Survey delivered by post to the physicians with e mail n = 799 Canada
Shosteck and Fairweather, 1979 [36] Comparison of mail and personal administration of questionnaire among physicians. Office-based primary care physicians who were in active practice within the States of Washington DC and Maryland, and treating upper respiratory or lower urinary tract infections selected from the AMA database. Physician antibiotic prescription practices. RCT 543 Mail technique n = 296 Personal interview technique n = 247 USA
Thomson et al., 2004 [32] To maximise the response to a postal questionnaire and to test the most effective form of incentive. Practicing GP’s selected from the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust database. GP’s attitudes to the management of ingrowing toenails. RCT 568 Lottery of one chance to win six bottles of champagne n = 286 Lottery of six chances to win one bottle of champagne n = 282 UK
Ward et al., 1998 [33] To evaluate response aiding strategies feasible in large surveys Randomly selected sample of general practitioners Cancer screening 4-arm parallel trial design with randomisation 1550 - Doctor advance phone prompt: n = 249, Pen prompt: n = 261, Letter prompt: n = 260, Non-doctor advance phone prompt: n = 501 Australia