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Influence of mailing strategies on response to questionnaires

  • Kate Newton (a1), Samuel M. Stein (a2) and Clare Lucey (a2)
Abstract
Aims and method

A prospective study was undertaken to evaluate the effect of a stamped addressed envelope, as compared to a non-stamped but addressed envelope or no envelope, on response to a mailed questionnaire. The correlation between questionnaire response and subsequent attendance at the first appointment was also studied.

Results

The overall response rate was 26% of 176 families offered first appointments at a local child psychiatry service. Families provided with a stamped addressed envelope were more likely to return their questionnaire and those families who returned the questionnaire were more likely to attend their first appointment.

Clinical implications

The return of patient questionnaires has significant clinical and resource implications. Only essential questionnaires should be sent out to referred families as nearly three-quarters will not be returned. The return rate can be enhanced by providing a stamped addressed envelope but, if questionnaires are not returned within 10 days, the likelihood of return is minimal. As more than half of the families who failed to return the questionnaire also failed to attend their first appointment, questionnaires can be used as a measure of motivation and likelihood of attendance as well as a source of clinical information.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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References
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Choi, B. C., Pak, A. W. & Purdham, J. T. (1990) Effects of mailing strategies on response rate, response time and cost in a questionnaire study amongst nurses. Epidemiology, 1, 7274.
Erdos, P. (1957) How to get higher returns from your mail survey. Printers Ink, 258, 3031.
Leitner, D. W., Myers, B. E., Sanderson, K., et al (1979) If you want to know what factors affect response rate, why not ask? In Proceedings of the Section on Survey Research Methods, American Statistical Association, pp. 359–362. Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association.
Mathai, J. & Markantonakis, A. (1990) Improving initial attendance to a child and family psychiatric clinic. Psychiatric Bulletin, 14, 151152.
Veiga, J. (1974) Getting the mail questionnaire returned: some practical research considerations. Journal of Applied Psychiatry, 59, 217218.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Influence of mailing strategies on response to questionnaires

  • Kate Newton (a1), Samuel M. Stein (a2) and Clare Lucey (a2)
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