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Provision of pen along with questionnaire does not increase the response rate to a postal survey: a randomised controlled trial
  1. T J Clark,
  2. K S Khan,
  3. J K Gupta
  1. Academic Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Birmingham Women's Hospital, Birmingham B15 2TG, UK
  1. Mr Clark (T.J.Clark{at}

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Postal surveys are a cost effective method of obtaining information from large numbers of geographically disparate medical professionals about their attributes, behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. The validity of the findings of such surveys is primarily dependent upon an adequate response rate and it is of concern that the rates are declining.1 Inclusion of a pen along with the questionnaire is often used to counter this trend. In theory, the availability of a pen would enable immediate completion of the questionnaire. The gift of a pen may also predispose the recipient to look upon the questionnaire more favourably increasing the likelihood of a response. However, the effectiveness of this strategy has not been established. Therefore as part of a national survey of consultant gynaecologists, we conducted a randomised controlled trial, to determine if …

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  • Contributors KSK generated the concept for the paper with input from TJC. TJC generated the randomisation sequence, collected the responses and analysed the data. TJC wrote the manuscript with comments from KSK and JKG. JKG is the guarantor.

  • Funding: University of Birmingham Interdisciplinary Research Fund and the Birmingham Women's Hospital Research and Development Programme (TJC).

  • Conflicts of interest: none.