Do physicians prefer to complete online or mail surveys? Findings from a national longitudinal survey

Tamara Taylor, Anthony Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Survey response rates for physicians are falling generally, and surveys of physicians tend to have lower response rates than those of the general population. To maximize response, respondents are often given a choice of modes in which to respond. The aim of this article is to describe mode response patterns and identify factors related to physicians’ decisions to complete surveys online rather than by mail. The data are from the fifth annual wave of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life longitudinal survey of physicians, in which there was a 43.5% response rate (10,746/24,711) and 33.7% of respondents completed the survey online. Online completion was more likely when the physician had completed the survey online in the previous wave, was a general practitioner rather than other medical specialist or doctor-in-training, worked in a remote location, and was young and male. Free-text spontaneous comments from respondents indicated that mode choice was based on a combination of preference, previous experience, and feasibility. These results provide support for the use of mixed mode survey designs, which can accommodate doctors with different mode preferences and cast doubt over the possibility of tailoring mode based on respondent characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-70
Number of pages30
JournalEvaluation & the Health Professions
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • hard copy
  • longitudinal survey
  • mail surveys
  • mixed mode
  • mode preference
  • online surveys
  • physician survey
  • response mode
  • response rates

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