Background Evidence is needed regarding effective incentive strategies to increase clinician survey response rates. Within a larger clinical trial of population-based BRCA1/2 mutation screening, we conducted a randomized controlled study comparing the use of upfront cash cards requiring email activation versus checks as clinician survey incentives.
Methods We mailed paper surveys to 500 primary care providers (PCPs) in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia who were nominated by study participants to disclose BRCA1/2 mutation results obtained through the study. The first 303 clinicians were randomized to receive the $50 incentive as a cash card (N = 155) or check (N = 148). We compared response rates by incentive type, adjusting for PCP characteristics and study site.
Results In unadjusted analyses, PCPs who received checks versus cash cards were more likely to respond to the survey (54.1% versus 41.9%, p = 0.046); this remained true when we adjusted for provider characteristics (OR for checks 1.61, 95% CI 1.01, 2.59). No other clinician characteristics had a statistically significant association with response rates in adjusted analyses. When we included an interaction term for incentive type and city, the favorable impact of checks on response rates was evident only in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Conclusions An upfront cash card incentive requiring email activation may be less effective in eliciting clinician responses than up-front checks. However, the benefit of checks for clinician response rates may depend on clinicians’ geographic location.