Table 1

Inclusion criteria and data abstraction protocol

Inclusion criteria

Exclusion criteria


Self completed mail surveys including electronic surveys using fax, internet or email.

Health care topic.

Minimum 100 participants.

Published in English.

Reported response rate.

Telephone surveys, personal interviews and captive audience surveys.


Healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, such as pharmacists, dentists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and radiographers.

Students, patients and general public.

Data Abstraction

Final response rate

Number of usable questionnaires (completed or partially completed questionnaires) returned after the final reminder, divided by the total number sent.

Number of survey participants

Studies were grouped into <250, 250-499, 500-749, 750-999, 1000-2499, > = 2500 participants.

Publication Type

Standard or electronic format.

Health professional

Doctor, nurse, allied health or mixed populations.

Country of study population

Studies were grouped into US, Canada, Australia/New Zealand, UK/Ireland, other European and other countries.

Questionnaire length

Time required to complete questionnaire was used as a proxy for questionnaire length and estimated 3 pages or 8 questions per minute. Studies were grouped as <10 minutes, 10-19 minutes and > = 20 minutes.

Number of reminders

Studies were grouped into no reminders, 1 reminder, 2 reminders and 3-5 reminders.

Reminders could be postal, telephone or electronic.

Use of financial incentives

Cash or prize draw incentive.

Survey Type

Surveys were classified as electronic if they were distributed by solely electronic processes. Those using only postal distribution or a mixed postal and electronic design were classified as postal.

Cook et al. BMC Health Services Research 2009 9:160   doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-160

Open Data