Background: Patient participation in cancer clinical trials is suboptimal. A challenge to capturing physicians' insights about trials has been low response to surveys. We conducted a study using varying combinations of mail and email to recruit a nationally representative sample of medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists to complete a survey on trial accrual. Methods: We randomly assigned eligible physicians identified from the American Medical Association MasterFile (n = 13,251) to mail-or email-based recruitment strategies. Mail-based recruitment included a survey packet with: (1) cover letter describing the survey and inviting participation; (2) paper copy of the survey and postage-paid return envelope; and (3) a web link for completing the survey online. Email-based recruitment included an e-mail describing the survey and inviting participation, along with the web link to the survey, and a reminder postcard 2 weeks later. Results: Response was higher for mail-based (11.8, 95% CI 11.0-12.6%) vs. email-based (4.5, 95% CI 4.0-5.0%) recruitment. In email-based recruitment, only one-quarter of recipients opened the email, and even fewer clicked on the link to complete the survey. Most physicians in mail-based recruitment responded after the first invitation (362 of 770 responders, 47.0%). A higher proportion of responders vs. non-responders were young (ages 25-44 years), men, and radiation or surgical (vs. medical) oncologists. Conclusions: Most physicians assigned to mail-based recruitment actually completed the survey online via the link provided in the cover letter, and those in email-based recruitment did not respond until they received a reminder postcard by mail. Providing the option to return a paper survey or complete it online may have further increased participation in the mail-based group, and future studies should examine how combinations of delivery mode and return options affect physicians' response to surveys.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Informatics