• Presentation

The Costs of Using Pre-Paid Incentives in a Physician Survey


Hogan, S. O. (2007, May). The Costs of Using Pre-Paid Incentives in a Physician Survey. Presented at American Association for Public Opinion Research Conference, Anaheim, CA.


The use of financial incentives, particularly pre-paid incentives, appears to stimulate survey participation by physicians (see Berk, et al. 1990; Kasprzyk et al 2001 and Delnevo 2004). While research has addressed the extent to which incentives can improve response rates, there is much less discussion about the financial risk researchers take in offering them. This paper starts to fill this void by using as a case study a recently fielded a survey of cardiologists, internists and family practice physicians. We found that 64% of those receiving the checks cashed them and approximately 11% of those cashing checks were non-respondents or later coded as ineligible sample members. In other words, the financial risk of an ineligible non-respondent cashing a check is outweighed by the savings due to respondents who do not cash checks. These findings can be useful in anticipating the costs of fielding a physician survey with an incentive component. Sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and implemented by RTI International, this survey included a pre-paid $25 incentive with a mailed survey to the entire sample of 1728 physicians. We received a response rate of 62 percent of all eligible sampled physicians.