Third mailings in epidemiological studies: are they really necessary?

Alison M Elliott, Philip C Hannaford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION: Whether or not third mailings are appropriate or worthwhile in postal epidemiological studies has not been thoroughly investigated and requires examination.

METHODS: A self-completion postal questionnaire of 2184 individuals was conducted in 2000. The socio-demographic and health characteristics of four groups of individuals (first mailing respondents, second mailing respondents, third mailing respondents and non-respondents) were compared.

RESULTS: Some significant differences between the groups were found, however, the inclusion of respondents to the third mailing did not significantly change the overall characteristics of respondents compared to non-respondents.

DISCUSSION: When differences do exist between respondents and non-respondents, our results suggest that a third mailing is unlikely to remove many of these differences. The study supports our previous suggestion that the effort and resources expended in carrying out a third mailing may not be justified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-4
Number of pages3
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Data collection
  • Epidemiological methods
  • Health Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Response bias


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