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J Health Serv Res Policy. 2000 Oct;5(4):219-21.

Does length of questionnaire matter? A randomised trial of response rates to a mailed questionnaire.

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  • 1Department of Health Studies, University of York, UK.



To assess whether length of questionnaire affects response rates.


A quasi-randomised trial of women aged 70 years and over in a general practice in England. Three questionnaires of different lengths: a clinical questionnaire (four pages); the same questionnaire plus the EuroQol (five pages); the same questionnaire plus the SF-12 (seven pages). The impact of length on the proportion of returned questionnaires and item completion rates was assessed.


In total, 847 questionnaires were mailed; response rates were 49%, 49% and 40% to the short, medium and long questionnaires, respectively. This difference was statistically significant when the short questionnaire was compared against the longest instrument (9% difference; 95% confidence interval (CI) of difference = 0.3% to 16.6%). Item completion rates for the clinical questionnaire did not differ. Respondents did not differ in age or self-reported health status between the three groups.


Increasing the length of a questionnaire from five to seven pages reduces response rates from women aged 70 years and over. However, lengthening a questionnaire does not seem to affect the quality of responses to questions near the front of the questionnaire.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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