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Getting Physicians to Respond: The Impact of Incentive Type and Timing on Physician Survey Response Rates

Keywords: Physicians; surveys; response rate; incentives

Objective. To study the effects of payment timing, form of payment, and requiring a social security number (SSN) on survey response rates.

Data Source. Third-wave mailing of a U.S. physician survey.

Study Design. Nonrespondents were randomized to receive immediate U.S.$25 cash, immediate U.S.$25 check, promised U.S.$25 check, or promised U.S.$25 check requiring an SSN.

Data Collection Methods. Paper survey responses were double entered into statistical software.

Principal Findings. Response rates differed significantly between remuneration groups (?32=80.1, p<.0001), highest="highest" rate="rate" in="in" the="the" cash="cash" group="group" (34="(34" then="then" immediate="immediate" (20="(20" (10="(10" percent),="percent)," and="and" promised="promised" check="check" with="with" ssn="ssn" (8="(8" percent).</p="percent).</p">

Conclusions. Immediate monetary incentives yield higher response rates than promised in this population of nonresponding physicians. Promised incentives yield similarly low response rates regardless of whether an SSN is requested.

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