Effects of a financial incentive on health researcher's response to an online survey: A randomized controlled trial

Wilson, Paul M. and Petticrew, Mark and Calnan, Michael .W. and Nazareth, Irwin (2010) Effects of a financial incentive on health researcher's response to an online survey: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 12 (2). ISSN 1439-4456. (doi:https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.1251) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.2196/jmir.1251

Abstract

Background: Nonresponse to questionnaires can affect the validity of surveys and introduce bias. Offering financial incentives can increase response rates to postal questionnaires, but the effect of financial incentives on response rates to online surveys is less clear. Objective: As part of a survey, we aimed to test whether knowledge of a financial incentive would increase the response rate to an online questionnaire. Methods: A randomized controlled trial of 485 UK-based principal investigators of publicly funded health services and population health research. Participants were contacted by email and invited to complete an online questionnaire via an embedded URL. Participants were randomly allocated to groups with either "knowledge of" or "no knowledge of" a financial incentive (£10 Amazon gift voucher) to be provided on completion of the survey. At the end of the study, gift vouchers were given to all participants who completed the questionnaire regardless of initial randomization status. Four reminder emails (sent from the same email address as the initial invitation) were sent out to nonrespondents at one, two, three, and four weeks; a fifth postal reminder was also undertaken. The primary outcome measure for the trial was the response rate one week after the second reminder. Response rate was also measured at the end of weeks one, two, three, four, and five, and after a postal reminder was sent. Results: In total, 243 (50%) questionnaires were returned (232 completed, 11 in which participation was declined). One week after the second reminder, the response rate in the "knowledge" group was 27% (66/244) versus 20% (49/241) in the "no knowledge" group (Ï?21 = 3.0, P =.08). The odds ratio for responding among those with knowledge of an incentive was 1.45 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.95 - 2.21). At the third reminder, participants in the "no knowledge" group were informed about the incentive, ending the randomized element of the study. However we continued to follow up all participants, and from reminder three onwards, no significant differences were observed in the response rates of the two groups. Conclusions: Knowledge of a financial incentive did not significantly increase the response rate to an online questionnaire. Future surveys should consider including a randomized element to further test the utility of offering incentives of other types and amounts to participate in online questionnaires.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Electronic mail, Questionnaires, Randomized controlled trial, Reminder systems, Reward
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 10:40 UTC
Last Modified: 13 May 2014 15:50 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/38694 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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