Selected questionnaire size and color combinations were significantly related to mailed survey response rates

Timothy J. Beebe, Sarah M. Stoner, Kari J. Anderson, Arthur R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To determine the degree to which mailed survey response rates, response times, and nonresponse bias are affected by questionnaire size and color. Study Design and Setting: Questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of 2,000 Mayo Clinic patients in one of four size/color "test" groups. One thousand three hundred nine surveys were completed, approximately two-thirds in each group. Results: A small (61/8 × 81/4 in) questionnaire booklet on white paper had a higher response rate (68.4%) than a similarly sized questionnaire on blue paper (62.3%). A large (81/4 × 11 in) questionnaire on white paper had a 62.7% rate, whereas a large, blue questionnaire had a response rate of 68.6%. Median response times did not differ by questionnaire size/color. No evidence of differential nonresponse bias was observed across the four test groups. Conclusion: This study supports the use of a small/white questionnaire format advocated by the Total Design Method advanced by Don Dillman at Washington State University. We observed a favorable response rate for a large questionnaire printed on blue paper; however, if time and resources are limited, use of a small/white questionnaire appears preferable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1184-1189
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Volume60
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2007

Keywords

  • Mail surveys
  • Paper color
  • Questionnaire size
  • Response bias
  • Response rate
  • Survey methods

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