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Racial and ethnic variation in response to mailed and telephone surveys among women in a managed care population.



To describe the characteristics of participants who completed a mailed survey, compared to those initial non-responders who completed the same survey over the telephone. STUDY DESIGN AND PATIENT POPULATIONS: We conducted a mailed survey, in both Spanish and English, among women with abnormal Pap smears, who were members of a large managed care organization. Telephone follow up for non-responders was performed by a bilingual interviewer. A 20-minute long distance telephone card was offered as an incentive to individuals who completed the telephone survey. We used bivariate and multivariate analyses to describe the population characteristics of respondents who replied by mail, as compared to those who completed the survey by telephone.


Of the 1049 potentially eligible participants, 733 women completed the survey, for an overall response rate of 70%. Fifty-six percent (N=411) of the surveys were received by mail, and 44% (N=322) were completed by telephone. Thirty-four percent of the telephone surveys were completed in Spanish, compared to 13% of the mailed surveys (P<.001). Telephone respondents were less satisfied with their health care than were those who responded by mail.


Among this insured cohort of women, Latinas who completed the survey in Spanish were more likely to participate in a telephone survey that offered an incentive, than in a mailed survey. These findings should be considered when planning health surveys in this population.

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