Increasing response rates to follow-up questionnaires in health intervention research: Randomized controlled trial of a gift card prize incentive Academic Article uri icon


  • Background/aims Achieving a high response rate to follow-up questionnaires in randomized controlled trials of interventions is important for study validity. Few studies have tested the value of incentives in increasing response rates to online questionnaires in clinical trials of health interventions. This study evaluated the effect of a gift card prize-draw incentive on response rates to follow-up questionnaires within a trial of an online health intervention. Method The study was embedded in a host randomized controlled trial of an online parenting program for child anxiety. A total of 433 participants were randomly allocated to one of two groups: (1) being informed that they would enter a gift card prize-draw if they completed the final study questionnaire (24-week follow-up) and (2) not informed about the prize-draw. All participants had a 1 in 20 chance of winning an AUD50 gift card after they completed the online questionnaire. Results The odds of the informed group completing the follow-up questionnaire were significantly higher than the uninformed group, (79.6% vs 68.5%, odds ratio = 1.79, 95% confidence interval = 1.15-2.79). This response rate increase of 11.1% (95% confidence interval = 2.8-19.1) occurred in both intervention and control groups in the host randomized controlled trial. The incentive was also effective in increasing questionnaire commencement (84.6% vs 75.9%, odds ratio = 1.74, 95% confidence interval = 1.07-2.84) and reducing the delay in completing the questionnaire (19.9 vs 22.6 days, hazard ratio = 1.34, 95% confidence interval = 1.07-1.67). Conclusion This study adds to evidence for the effectiveness of incentives to increase response rates to follow-up questionnaires in health intervention trials.

publication date

  • 2017