A Systematic Review of Strategies to Enhance Response Rates and Representativeness of Patient Experience Surveys

Published in: Medical Care (2022). doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000001784

Posted on RAND.org on November 03, 2022

by Rebecca Anhang Price, Denise D. Quigley, J. Lee Hargraves, Joann S. Sorra, Alejandro Uriel Becerra-Ornelas, Ron D. Hays, Paul Cleary, Kristin A. Brown, Marc N. Elliott

Background

Data from surveys of patient care experiences are a cornerstone of public reporting and pay-for-performance initiatives. Recently, increasing concerns have been raised about survey response rates and how to promote equity by ensuring that responses represent the perspectives of all patients.

Objective

Review evidence on survey administration strategies to improve response rates and representativeness of patient surveys.

Research Design

Systematic review adhering to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

Study Selection

Forty peer-reviewed randomized experiments of administration protocols for patient experience surveys.

Results

Mail administration with telephone follow-up provides a median response rate benefit of 13% compared with mail-only or telephone-only. While surveys administered only by web typically result in lower response rates than those administered by mail or telephone (median difference in response rate: –21%, range: –44%, 0%), the limited evidence for a sequential web-mail-telephone mode suggests a potential response rate benefit over sequential mail-telephone (median: 4%, range: 2%, 5%). Telephone-only and sequential mixed modes including telephone may yield better representation across patient subgroups by age, insurance type, and race/ethnicity. Monetary incentives are associated with large increases in response rates (median increase: 12%, range: 7%, 20%).

Conclusions

Sequential mixed-mode administration yields higher patient survey response rates than a single mode. Including telephone in sequential mixed-mode administration improves response among those with historically lower response rates; including web in mixed-mode administration may increase response at lower cost. Other promising strategies to improve response rates include in-person survey administration during hospital discharge, incentives, minimizing survey language complexity, and prenotification before survey administration.

Research conducted by

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