An assessment of incentive versus survey length trade-offs in a web survey of radiologists
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BACKGROUND: It is generally understood that shorter Web surveys and use of incentives result in higher response rates in Web surveys directed to health care providers. Less is known about potential respondent preference for reduced burden as compared to increased reward. OBJECTIVE: To help elicit preference for minimized burden compared to reward for completion of a survey, we observed physician preferences for shorter Web surveys compared to incentives as well as incentive preference (small guaranteed incentive compared to larger lottery incentive) accompanying an electronic request to complete a survey. METHODS: This was an observational study that accompanied a large Web survey study of radiology staff, fellows, and residents at select academic medical centers in the United States. With the request to complete the survey, potential respondents were offered three options: (1) a 10-minute Web survey with the chance to win an iPad, (2) a 10-minute Web survey with a guaranteed nominal incentive ($5 amazon.com gift card), or (3) a shorter (5-7 minute) Web survey with no incentive. A total of 254 individuals responded to the Web survey request. RESULTS: Overwhelmingly, individuals chose a longer survey accompanied by an incentive compared to a shorter survey with no incentive (85% compared to 15%, P<.001). Of those opting for an incentive, a small, but not significant majority chose the chance to win an iPad over a guaranteed $5 gift card (56% compared to 44%). CONCLUSIONS: When given the choice, radiologists preferred a reward (either guaranteed or based on a lottery) to a less burdensome survey, indicating that researchers should focus more attention at increasing perceived benefits of completing a Web survey compared to decreasing perceived burden.
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