Contact strategies, randomized trials



Effective strategies for contacting and recruiting study participants are critical in conducting clinical research. In this study, we conducted two sequential randomized controlled trials of mail- and telephone-based strategies for contacting and recruiting participants, and evaluated participant-related variables’ association with time to survey completion and survey completion rates. Subjects eligible for this study were survivors of acute lung injury who had been previously enrolled in a 12-month observational follow-up study evaluating their physical, cognitive and mental health outcomes, with their last study visit completed at a median of 34 months previously.


Eligible subjects were contacted to complete a new research survey as part of two randomized trials, initially using a randomized mail-based contact strategy, followed by a randomized telephone-based contact strategy for non-responders to the mail strategy. Both strategies focused on using either a personalized versus a generic approach. In addition, 18 potentially relevant subject-related variables (e.g., demographics, last known physical and mental health status) were evaluated for association with time to survey completion.


Of 308 eligible subjects, 67% completed the survey with a median (IQR) of 3 (2, 5) contact attempts required. There was no significant difference in the time to survey completion for either randomized trial of mail- or phone-based contact strategy. Among all subject-related variables, age ≤40 years and minority race were independently associated with a longer time to survey completion.


We found that age ≤40 years and minority race were associated with a longer time to survey completion, but personalized versus generic approaches to mail- and telephone-based contact strategies had no significant effect. Repeating both mail and telephone contact attempts was important for increasing survey completion rate.

Original Publication Citation

Dinglas VD, Huang M, Sepulveda KA, Pinedo M, Hopkins RO, Colantuoni E, Needham DM. (2015). A Personalized contact strategies and predictors of time to survey completion: analysis of two sequential randomized trials. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 15(1):5.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



BMC Medical Research Methodology




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Included in

Psychology Commons