Response to mail surveys: Effect of a request to explain refusal to participate

ARIC Study Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


As part of a mailed health survey, we investigated the effect on the response rate of a request to explain refusal to participate. Subjects (N = 1,240) were randomized either to receive or not to receive, with the first mailing, a letter requesting an explanation of their decision not to fill out the questionnaire, if they chose that option. There was a slightly higher cumulative response during most of the study from subjects who had been sent the request, but little difference between the two study groups in the ultimate response rate [80% from the intervention group vs 83% from the control group; response rate difference = −3%; 95% confidence limits (CL) = −7%, 1%]. of 209 individuals who were sent the request and did not return the questionnaire, only 15 (7%) sent back an explanation. A request to explain a refusal to participate in a mail survey neither jeopardized the response rate nor enhanced it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-482
Number of pages3
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Gender
  • Health surveys
  • Marital status
  • Survey methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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