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Table 1 Realisation of recommendations for increasing the response rate

From: Non-response in a survey of physicians on end-of-life care for the elderly

  Strategy* Recommendation from the literature[2, 12] Realised in the study
    Yes No
Envelope   Logo  
  P Postage stamp (if N is small)   Large N
  P Address personally  
Cover letter T Reliable letter-head/letter-head of the university  
  P Personal form of address  
   Explanation of aims of the study  
   Information about researchers   On demand
  T Ensure anonymity  
   Name of the researchers/institution  
   Telephone number  
   Office hours of the researchers   X
  P Hand-written signature  
   Not longer than 1 page  
   Clarify importance of participation  
   Brief information about results   On demand
Questionnaire   A4, white, tacked  
  C Short, not more than 16 pages  
  T Easily readable and understandable/blocks of questions  
   No sociodemographic/precarious questions at the beginning  
   Preferably closed response format  
   Preferably no filter questions  
   Consider rules to formulate questions (e.g. no double negative)  
   Front page: title, institution, address, contact  
   Directions on how to fill in the questionnaire   X
   At the end: 1/2 page for comments 1/4 page  
Privacy policy   How are data handled?   X
   Ensure anonymity  
   Ensure no disclosure of data   X
   Data protection officer involved  
Envelope for reply   Return free of charge  
Announcement C Only if no intensive follow-up  
Salience T Interesting topic  
Follow-up F First dispatch, thank-you note/reminder, second dispatch of questionnaire  
Recognised authorities   Here: newspaper article, cover letter of National Medical Council  
Material incentives C Monetary: no delayed incentives   Delayed fixed amount
  C Non-monetary (e.g. brochure)   X
  1. *Strategy: P...Personalisation; C...Commitment; T...Trust in researcher; F...Follow-up