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Keywords:

  • Health care surveys;
  • survey methods;
  • general practitioners;
  • sexually transmitted disease

Abstract

Objective: To compare the response rates achieved for an online survey with a postal survey of general practitioners (GPs) as a method to evaluate the National STI Prevention Program.

Methods: All GPs in Australia were asked to complete an online survey. A further sample of 509 GPs were asked to complete a postal survey. Response rates to both recruitment methods were compared. The demographic characteristics of responders were compared to the entire GP population of Australia.

Results: Twenty GPs completed the online survey (response rate <0.1%). Sixty-three GPs completed the postal survey (response rate 12.4%). The demographic characteristics of those responding to the postal survey showed no statistically significant difference compared to the general GP population.

Conclusion: Our postal survey had a higher response rate than the online survey. Our response to the postal survey was lower than other similar studies and is likely to be due to a lack of incentives and follow-up. Even with the low response rate it appears that postal surveys can provide a good representation of the overall population.

Implications: Despite growing use of online surveys, postal surveys should still be the method of choice whenever possible. Postal surveys should include incentives and further follow-up of the initial recruitment should be conducted.