Article

Combining conditional and unconditional recruitment incentives could facilitate telephone tracing in surveys of postpartum women

Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.
Journal of Clinical Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 5.48). 08/2006; 59(7):732-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.11.011
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To compare tracing and contact rates using alternative incentives in a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) survey among postpartum women.
In a randomized trial of 1,061 postpartum women 18-49 years of age selected from four Iowa counties, we compared the effects of: (1) unconditional $5 telephone card incentive enclosed with the introductory letter followed by $25 incentive conditional upon successful telephone tracing, contact, and completion of CATI (Group 1, n = 530) vs. (2) $30 incentive conditional upon subject completion of CATI (Group 2, n = 531).
Overall telephone tracing and contact rates achieved were 67.8% and 66.6%, respectively. Tracing (70.2 vs. 65.4%, P = .09) and contact (68.5 vs. 64.8%, P = .26) rates were consistently higher among subjects assigned the combination of a conditional and an unconditional incentive. The combined incentive type had a greater impact on telephone tracing success rates for subjects on whom we could not initially locate an active telephone number (16.7 vs. 7.3%, P = .07) when compared to subjects for whom we found an active telephone number at the time of mailing the introductory letter (78.9 vs. 75.9%, P = .30).
Combining conditional and unconditional recruitment incentives can facilitate telephone tracing efforts in surveys conducted among recently postpartum women.

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We extracted data on the trial participants, the intervention, the number randomised to intervention and comparison groups and allocation concealment. For each strategy, we estimated pooled odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) in a random-effects model. We assessed evidence for selection bias using Egger's weighted regression method and Begg's rank correlation test and funnel plot. We assessed heterogeneity among trial odds ratios using a Chi(2) test and the degree of inconsistency between trial results was quantified using the I(2) statistic. PostalWe found 481 eligible trials. The trials evaluated 110 different ways of increasing response to postal questionnaires. We found substantial heterogeneity among trial results in half of the strategies. The odds of response were at least doubled using monetary incentives (odds ratio 1.87; 95% CI 1.73 to 2.04; heterogeneity P < 0.00001, I(2) = 84%), recorded delivery (1.76; 95% CI 1.43 to 2.18; P = 0.0001, I(2) = 71%), a teaser on the envelope - e.g. a comment suggesting to participants that they may benefit if they open it (3.08; 95% CI 1.27 to 7.44) and a more interesting questionnaire topic (2.00; 95% CI 1.32 to 3.04; P = 0.06, I(2) = 80%). The odds of response were substantially higher with pre-notification (1.45; 95% CI 1.29 to 1.63; P < 0.00001, I(2) = 89%), follow-up contact (1.35; 95% CI 1.18 to 1.55; P < 0.00001, I(2) = 76%), unconditional incentives (1.61; 1.36 to 1.89; P < 0.00001, I(2) = 88%), shorter questionnaires (1.64; 95% CI 1.43 to 1.87; P < 0.00001, I(2) = 91%), providing a second copy of the questionnaire at follow up (1.46; 95% CI 1.13 to 1.90; P < 0.00001, I(2) = 82%), mentioning an obligation to respond (1.61; 95% CI 1.16 to 2.22; P = 0.98, I(2) = 0%) and university sponsorship (1.32; 95% CI 1.13 to 1.54; P < 0.00001, I(2) = 83%). 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The odds of response tripled when a picture was included in an e-mail (3.05; 95% CI 1.84 to 5.06; P = 0.27, I(2) = 19%). The odds of response were reduced when "Survey" was mentioned in the e-mail subject line (0.81; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.97; P = 0.33, I(2) = 0%), and when the e-mail included a male signature (0.55; 95% CI 0.38 to 0.80; P = 0.96, I(2) = 0%). Health researchers using postal and electronic questionnaires can increase response using the strategies shown to be effective in this systematic review.
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