The effects of continuing medical education credits on physician response rates to a mailed questionnaire

Mary McGrae McDermott, Northwestern University
Philip Greenland, Northwestern University
Elizabeth A. Hahn, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare School of Anesthesia
Donna Brogan, Emory University
David Cella, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare School of Anesthesia
Judith K. Ockene, University of Massachusetts Medical School
William H. Pearce, Northwestern University
Michael H. Criqui, University of California at San Diego
Alan T. Hirsch, University of Minnesota Medical School
Martin S. Lipsky, The Feinberg School of Medicine
Linda Odom
Kendra Hanley
Shaheen Khan

Document Type Article

Abstract

This study investigated whether the opportunity to obtain Continuing Medical Education (CME) credit together with a five-dollar bill increased response rates and questionnaire completion rates in a physician survey involving mailed questionnaires. One thousand, three hundred and fourteen cardiologists, family practitioners, general internists (non-surgeons) and 264 vascular surgeons randomly identified from the American Medical Association database participated. After two, of up to four, questionnaire mailings, the opportunity to obtain CME credit and a five-dollar bill were included with questionnaire mailings. Among non-surgeons, 26.5% responded to pre-incentive mailings and 30.2% of those initially unresponsive replied after the interventions. Among surgeons, 39% responded to pre-incentive mailings and 32.7% of those initially unresponsive replied after the interventions. In conclusion, the opportunity to receive CME credit combined with a small monetary incentive is an effective motivation for physicians participating in a study involving mailed questionnaires.