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  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

SMS text pre-notification and delivery of reminder e-mails to increase response rates to postal questionnaires: a factorial design, randomised, controlled trial

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Trials201516 (Suppl 2) :P88

  • Published:


  • Postal Questionnaire
  • Ureteric Stone
  • Mobile Telephone
  • Increase Response Rate
  • Improve Response Rate


Participant non-response to postal questionnaires in randomised controlled trials (RCT) can jeopardise trial results.


We evaluated two interventions aimed at increasing postal questionnaire response rates in a 2x2 partial factorial RCT nested within a single, large, UK-wide RCT of medical expulsive therapy for ureteric stones. The interventions were: questionnaire pre-notification via SMS text prior to posting the trial questionnaires versus no pre-notification; for non-responders to the initial questionnaire mailing, use of an e-mail reminder (containing a hyperlink for online questionnaire completion) versus a postal reminder with paper questionnaire. Participants were randomised to the pre-notification comparison, the reminder comparison or both, depending on whether they supplied mobile telephone number and/or email address. The primary outcome was response to 4 and 12 week questionnaires.


418 participants were randomised to the SMS pre-notification comparison: the intervention had no effect on response rates at either questionnaire time point. In sub-group analyses, SMS pre-notification increased response rates in women (p=0.038), but only at the first time-point. 119 participants were randomised to the reminder comparison. There was no difference in response rates between those randomised to e-mail or postal reminders.


SMS text pre-notification of questionnaire delivery and email delivery of reminders did not improve response rates. There was some evidence to suggest SMS text pre-notification may be effective in women. While e-mail reminders had no impact on response rates, their use could result in postage cost savings. Further studies of these interventions, nested in different RCTS, are warranted, with subsequent meta-analysis.

Authors’ Affiliations

University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK


© Starr et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


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