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Journal Article


Rodgers S, Sbizzera I, Cockayne S, Fairhurst C, Lamb SE, Vernon W, Watson J, Hewitt C, Torgerson D. F1000Res. 2018; 7: e1083.


York Trials Unit, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK.


(Copyright © 2018, F1000 Research)








Background: Attrition (i.e. when participants do not return the questionnaires) is a problem for many randomised controlled trials. The resultant loss of data leads to a reduction in statistical power and can lead to bias. The aim of this study was to assess whether a pre-notification newsletter and/or a handwritten or printed Post-it® note sticker, as a reminder, increased postal questionnaire response rates for participants of randomised controlled trials. Method: This study was a factorial trial embedded within a trial of a falls-prevention intervention among men and women aged ≥65 years under podiatric care. Participants were randomised into one of six groups: newsletter plus handwritten Post-it®; newsletter plus printed Post-it®; newsletter only; handwritten Post-it® only; printed Post-it® only; or no newsletter or Post-it®. The results were combined with those from previous embedded randomised controlled trials in a meta-analysis. Results: The 12-month response rate was 803/826 (97.2%) (newsletter 95.1%, no newsletter 99.3%, printed Post-it® 97.5%, handwritten Post-it® 97.1%, no Post-it® 97.1%). Pre-notification with a newsletter had a detrimental effect on response rates (adjusted odds ratio (OR), 0.14; 95% CI, 0.04 to 0.48; p<0.01) and time to return the questionnaire (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.75 to 0.99; p=0.04). No other statistically significant differences were observed between the intervention groups on response rates, time to response, and the need for a reminder. Conclusions: Post-it® notes have been shown to be ineffective in three embedded trials, whereas the evidence for newsletter reminders is still uncertain.

Language: en


Randomised controlled trial; randomisation; embedded trial; newsletter; Post-it® note; response rate


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