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Public Health Rep. 1994 Jul-Aug;109(4):507-11.

Factors influencing the return rate in a direct mail campaign to inform minority women about prevention of cervical cancer.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157.


The Forsyth County Cervical Cancer Prevention Project was a 5-year community-based health education program funded by the National Cancer Institute. The program was developed to reduce cervical cancer mortality among black women in Forsyth County, and it was targeted to those ages 18 and older. The program tried to educate the target population through a combination of mass media and direct education. This paper reports on an experiment conducted to investigate sources of influence on the effectiveness of direct mail, a technique used to augment mass media health education. Direct mail has shown promise as a method for reaching target populations that are difficult to reach with other mass media approaches. Using commercially prepared mailing lists sorted by zip code and other characteristics of the resident, health-related materials can be targeted to persons at their homes. A randomized experiment involving 1,000 households was carried out to estimate the influence of type of postage and address (name versus "resident or occupant") on the response rate to direct mail. Results indicated that there was no significant advantage from use of first class over bulk rate postage, but the return was significantly greater when the envelope bore a name rather than "resident or occupant."

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