Journal article

A randomised trial and economic evaluation of the effect of response mode on response rate, response bias, and item non-response in a survey of doctors

Anthony Scott, Sung-Hee Jeon, Catherine M Joyce, John S Humphreys, Guyonne Kalb, Julia Witt, Anne Leahy



BACKGROUND: Surveys of doctors are an important data collection method in health services research. Ways to improve response rates, minimise survey response bias and item non-response, within a given budget, have not previously been addressed in the same study. The aim of this paper is to compare the effects and costs of three different modes of survey administration in a national survey of doctors. METHODS: A stratified random sample of 4.9% (2,702/54,160) of doctors undertaking clinical practice was drawn from a national directory of all doctors in Australia. Stratification was by four doctor types: general practitioners, specialists, specialists-in-training, and hospital non-specialists, ..

View full abstract


Awarded by National Health and Medical Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

Funding was provided from a National Health and Medical Research Council Health Services Research Grant (454799) and the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. None of the funders had a role in the data collection, analysis, interpretation or writing of this paper. The views in this paper are those of the authors alone. We thank the doctors who gave their valuable time to participate in MABEL, and the other members of the MABEL team for data cleaning and comments on drafts of this paper: Terence Cheng, Daniel Kuehnle, Matthew McGrail, Michelle McIsaac, Stefanie Schurer, Durga Shrestha and Peter Sivey. The study was approved by the University of Melbourne Faculty of Economics and Commerce Human Ethics Advisory Group (Ref. 0709559) and the Monash University Standing Committee on Ethics in Research Involving Humans (Ref. CF07/1102 - 2007000291). De-identified data from MABEL are available from