Research Article

Comparison of response rates to a postal questionnaire from a general practice and a research unit.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 291 doi: (Published 23 November 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;291:1483
  1. W C Smith,
  2. I K Crombie,
  3. P D Campion,
  4. J D Knox


    A postal questionnaire study was carried out in an urban general practice to determine the effect of the introductory letter being sent by the participants' own general practitioner compared with that from a letter sent directly from a research unit. By sequential sampling 409 individuals aged between 40 and 59 were assigned to one of two groups. The people in one group were written to by their own general practitioner and those in the other by a doctor from a research unit. Husbands and wives were paired and were always sent the same letter. A second letter was sent to nonresponders after one month. The response rate to the general practitioner was significantly higher than that to the doctor in the research unit (85% compared with 75%) and differed by age and sex. The results have important implications for other research workers and suggest that general practitioners are in a key position in the conduct of medical and epidemiological research.