Ethics review and use of reminder letters in postal surveys: are current practices compromising an evidence-based approach?

Stuart C Howell, Susan Quine and Nicholas J Talley
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (1): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05043.x
Published online: 6 January 2003

To the Editor: Survey data are difficult to publish when response rates fall below 60%. Reminder letters are the most reliable method of improving response rates in postal surveys,1,2 and three to four reminders are needed to achieve the 60% benchmark. The additional benefit of sending five or more reminders appears negligible, suggesting that four is the optimum number to maximise response rates using this approach.1


  • 1. Koloski N, Talley NJ, Boyce PM, Morris-Yates AD. The effects of questionnaire length and lottery ticket inducement on the response rate in mail surveys. Psychol Health 2001; 16: 67-75.
  • 2. Kalantar JS, Talley NJ. The effects of lottery incentive and length of questionnaire on health survey response rates: a randomised study. J Clin Epidemiol 1999; 52: 1117-1122.


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