Conducting Survey Research Among Physicians and Other Medical Professionals: A Review of Current Literature
Flanigan, T., & McFarlane, E. S. (2008, May). Conducting Survey Research Among Physicians and Other Medical Professionals: A Review of Current Literature. Presented at AAPOR 2008, New Orleans, LA.
Conducting surveys on physicians and other medical professionals is much different from conducting surveys of the general population (Sudman, 1985). Physicians’ work schedules are demanding and their time is scarce, so participating in a survey represents a high opportunity cost to them. Furthermore, physicians represent an elite population and are frequently approached for surveys, potentially making them more reluctant to participate . They also typically have receptionists or other "gatekeepers" making it difficult to contact the physician directly. Consequently, response rates with physicians average about 10 percentage points lower than studies with the general population (Cummings, Savitz, and Konrad 2001). In addition, it is unclear whether methods aimed at improving response rates with the general population will work as well with physicians and other medical professionals. This paper presents a review of survey literature published from 1987 to 2007. We focused on studies aimed at increasing response rates or reducing nonresponse bias specifically among physicians and other medical personnel. Other survey topics examined include the use of incentives, survey length, mode comparisons, survey sponsorship, making contect, nonresponse bias, surveying physician establishments, and mode-specific methods such as the use of stamps on mail surveys. This paper provides a comprehensive review of the literature and recommended efforts to increase overall response among this hard-to-reach population. It also identifies areas where more research is needed.