What Makes a Successful Survey? A Systematic Review of Surveys Used in Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Academic Article uri icon

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  • PURPOSE: To characterize and assess the methodological quality of patient and physician surveys related to anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, and to analyze the factors influencing response rate. METHODS: The databases MEDLINE, Embase, and PubMed were searched from database inception to search date and screened in duplicate for relevant studies. Data regarding survey characteristics, response rates, and distribution methods were extracted. A previously published list of recommendations for high-quality surveys in orthopaedics was used as a scale to assess survey quality (12 items scored 0, 1, or 2; maximum score = 24). RESULTS: Of the initial 1,276 studies, 53 studies published between 1986 and 2016 met the inclusion criteria. Sixty-four percent of studies were distributed to physicians, compared with 32% distributed to patients and less than 4% to coaches. The median number of items in each survey was 10.5, and the average response rate was 73% (range: 18% to 100%). In-person distribution was the most common method (40%), followed by web-based methods (28%) and mail (25%). Response rates were highest for surveys targeted at patients (77%, P < .0001) and those delivered in-person (94%, P < .0001). The median quality score was 12/24 (range = 8.5/24 to 21/24). There was high inter-rater agreement using the quality scale (intraclass correlation coefficient = 0.92), but there was no correlation with the response rate (Rho = -0.01, P = .97). CONCLUSIONS: Response rates vary based on target audience and distribution methods, with patients responding at a significantly higher rate than physicians and in-person distribution yielding significantly higher response rates than web or mail surveys. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, systematic review of Level IV studies.


  • Ekhtiari, Seper
  • Kay, Jeffrey
  • de SA, Darren
  • Simunovic, Nicole
  • Musahl, Volker
  • Peterson, Devin
  • Ayeni, Olufemi R

publication date

  • May 2017