Pilot study methods and results



The pilot study was divided into two phases. Phase I of the pilot study was from October - December 2017, and tested the traditional mailed methods against models using doctor’s offices and online approaches. These methods yielded poor results (see Table 1) and necessitated re-thinking the recruitment strategy. Phase II of the pilot study started in January 2018,  and introduced incentives and a shorter questionnaire.  This recruitment strategy yielded greater response (see Table 2).


Pilot study phase I

Methods: Traditional mailings vs. doctor’s offices vs. online

Figure 1 below gives a visual overview of the five approaches to Phase I of the pilot study, branching from three broad categories of mailed, doctor's office, and online approaches.  As outlined, participants in the mailed approaches were contacted first via a pre-notification letter. After one week, the research team sent a questionnaire packet consisting of a letter, a 12-page questionnaire, and a business reply mail envelope. A reminder packet, with the same materials, was sent two weeks later to non-responders. A final, identical, packet was sent after another two weeks to non-responders.

For the online approach, 100 residents were mailed an informational letter with an online link to the questionnaire. A total of three letters were sent, once a week, for three weeks.

For the doctor's office active approach, questionnaire packets were handed out by the doctor's office staff, using a standardized script. Questionnaire packets included a letter, a 12-page questionnaire, and a business reply mail envelope. Each doctor's office handed out a total of 50 questionnaire packets over a two-day period.  After the completion of the active hand-out approach, questionnaire packets were placed on a table in the waiting area to begin a passive approach for patients to help themselves to a questionnaire packet. The questionnaire packets remained available on the waiting area tables for the duration of the pilot study phase I (approximately 6 weeks).

Figure 1.  Recruitment approaches for the Pilot study phase I.





Pilot study phase II

Methods:  Traditional mailing with incentives and shorter questionnaire

Figure 2 below illustrates the three approaches to the Pilot study phase II, testing for differences in participant response to a short-questionnaire, a short questionnaire-with-incentive, and a long questionnaire-with-incentive. 

Residents selected into the Pilot study phase II received a pre-notification letter, followed one week later by a questionnaire packet. The packet contained either a 12-page or 4-page questionnaire, accompanied by an introductory letter and business reply mail envelope. Participants in the incentive groups also received a reimbursement form to complete and mail back with their questionnaire.  The research team sent a second mailing to non-responders after an additional two weeks. A final mailing was sent to non-responders two weeks later.

Checks for $10 were mailed to participants in the incentive approaches who returned their questionnaire and reimbursement form.

Figure 2. Recruitment approaches for the Pilot study phase II.




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