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Res Social Adm Pharm. 2007 Jun;3(2):160-82.

Evaluating telephone follow-up of a mail survey of community pharmacies.

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  • 1Pharmacy Care Systems, Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy, 128 Miller Hall, Auburn, AL 36849, USA.



Mail and telephone are commonly used modes of survey with pharmacists. Research conducted using general population surveys consistently describes mail surveys as being less expensive but yielding lower response rates than telephone surveys. However, findings obtained from the general population may not be generalizable to pharmacist surveys.


This study evaluates the effectiveness of telephone follow-up of mail survey nonrespondents by comparing the 2 survey modes on response rates, cooperation rates, cost per sample unit, and cost per usable response and evaluating potential nonresponse bias in the context of immunization activities.


A census mail survey of 1,143 Washington State community pharmacies and a follow-up telephone survey of 262 randomly selected mail survey nonrespondents were compared. Both surveys included the same 15 yes/no-type questions to ask respondents about their pharmacy's involvement in immunization activities.


The mail survey yielded a response rate 1 of 26.7% and a cooperation rate 1 of 26.7%, compared with 83.6% and 87.8%, respectively, for the follow-up telephone survey. With respect to cost per sample unit, the mail survey was the least expensive option ($1.20). However, when comparing cost per usable response, the mail survey was the most expensive ($4.37), and the follow-up telephone survey without an advance notification was the least expensive ($1.99). Furthermore, results suggest the presence of nonresponse bias: compared with pharmacies participating in the follow-up telephone survey, pharmacies participating in the mail survey were more likely to be involved in in-house immunization services but less likely to be involved in outsourced services.


The telephone survey achieved higher outcome rates with reduced cost per usable response. A telephone survey is a viable mode that holds promise in pharmacy practice research. Maximizing response rates and assessing potential nonresponse bias should be a standard practice among pharmacy practice researchers. More methodology research specific to pharmacist surveys is needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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