A randomized trial of electronic reminders showed a reduction in the time to respond to postal questionnaires

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Objective: To assess the effect of electronic reminders (ERs) on response rate and time to response for the return of postal questionnaires.

Study Design and Setting: This open randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted at the University of York. Participants who were taking part in an established RCT and who provided an electronic mail address and/or mobile telephone number were eligible to take part in the study. The intervention group received ERs on the day they were expected to receive postal questionnaires.

Results: One hundred forty-eight participants (19 male and 129 female) aged 47 +/- 11 (range, 19-65) years were studied. About 89.2% of participants returned postal questionnaires. There was no difference in questionnaire response rates in control (64 of 74 [86.5%]) vs. intervention (68 of 74 [91.9%]), groups (relative risk = 1.063, 95% confidence interval: 0.949-1.189). Median questionnaire time to response was 4 days less in the intervention group (10.0 +/- 0.2; range, 10-14 days) compared with the control group (14.0 +/- 1.4; range, 10-23 days) (chi(2)(idr) = 5.27, P = 0.022).

Conclusion: ERs are useful tools for reducing participant time to response for postal questionnaires. We found little evidence for an effect of ERs on response rate for postal questionnaires. (C) 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-212
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Questionnaires
  • Reminder systems
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Respondents
  • Data collection
  • Communication

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