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Effect on survey response rate of hand written versus printed signature on a covering letter: randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN67566265]

McKenzie-McHarg, K; Tully, L; Gates, S; Ayers, S; Brocklehurst, P; (2005) Effect on survey response rate of hand written versus printed signature on a covering letter: randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN67566265]. BMC Health Services Research , 5 , Article 52. 10.1186/1472-6963-5-52. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: It is important that response rates to postal surveys are as high as possible to ensure that the results are representative and to maximise statistical power. Previous research has suggested that any personalisation of approach helps to improve the response rate. This experiment tested whether personalising questionnaires by hand signing the covering letter improved the response rate compared with a non-personalised group where the investigator's signature on the covering letter was scanned into the document and printed.Methods: Randomised controlled trial. Questionnaires about surgical techniques of caesarean section were mailed to 3,799 Members and Fellows of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists resident in the UK. Individuals were randomly allocated to receive a covering letter with either a computer printed signature or a hand written signature. Two reminders were sent to non-respondents. The outcome measures were the proportion of questionnaires returned and their time to return.Results: The response rate was 79.1% (1506/1905) in the hand-signed group and 78.4% (1484/ 1894) in the scanned and printed signature group. There was no detectable difference between the groups in response rate or time taken to respond.Conclusion: No advantage was detected to hand signing the covering letter accompanying a postal questionnaire to health professionals.

Type: Article
Title: Effect on survey response rate of hand written versus printed signature on a covering letter: randomised controlled trial [ISRCTN67566265]
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/1472-6963-5-52
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-5-52
Language: English
Additional information: © 2005 McKenzie-McHarg et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/2.0 ), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the orig inal work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1302657
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