The effect of a monetary incentive for administrative assistants on the survey response rate: a randomized controlled trial
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BACKGROUND: There is sufficient evidence that monetary incentives are effective in increasing survey response rates in the general population as well as with physicians. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of a monetary incentive intended for administrative assistants on the survey response rate of physicians in leadership positions. METHODS: This was an ancillary study to a national survey of chairs of academic Departments of Medicine in the United States about measuring faculty productivity. We randomized survey participants to receive or not receive a $5 gift card enclosed in the survey package. The cover letter explained that the gift card was intended for the administrative assistants as a "thank you for their time." We compared the response rates between the 2 study arms using the Chi-square test. RESULTS: Out of 152 participants to whom survey packages were mailed to, a total of 78 responses were received (51 % response rate). The response rates were 59 % in the incentive arm and 46 % in the no incentive arm. The relative effect of the incentive compared to no monetary incentive was borderline statistically significant (relative risk (RR) = 1.36, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.99 to 1.87; p = 0.055). CONCLUSION: Monetary incentives intended for administrative assistants likely increase the response rate of physicians in leadership positions.
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