Optimizing Survey Response Rates in Graduate Medical Education Research Studies

Annie Ericson, Kathryn Bonuck, Larry A. Green, Colleen Conry, James C. Martin, Patricia A. Carney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background and Objective: Survey response rates of 70% or higher are needed if findings are to be considered generalizable. Unfortunately, survey studies of health professionals have declining response rates. We have conducted survey research with residents and residency directors for over 13 years. Here we describe the strategies we used to obtain optimal response rates in residency training research collaboratives. Methods: We administered over 6,000 surveys between 2007 and 2019 to evaluate the Preparing the Personal Physician for Practice and Length of Training Pilot studies, both of which involved redesigning residency training. Survey recipients included program directors, clinic managers, residents, graduates, as well as supervising physicians and clinic staff members. We logged and analyzed survey administration efforts and approaches to optimize strategies. Results: Overall, we obtained response rates of 100% for program director surveys, 98% for resident surveys, 97% for continuity clinic surveys, 81% for graduates surveys, and 48% for the supervising physician and 43% for the clinic staff. Response rates were highest when the relationships between the evaluation team and survey recipients were closest. Strategies for optimizing response rates included (1) building relationships with all participants whenever possible, (2) sensitivity to survey timing and fatigue, and (3) using creative and persistent follow-up measures to encourage survey completion. Conclusion: High response rates are achievable, though they require an investment in time, resources, and ingenuity in connecting with study populations. Investi-gators conducting survey research must consider administrative efforts needed to achieve target response rates, including planning for funds accordingly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-310
Number of pages7
JournalFamily medicine
Volume55
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

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