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Feb 2012

Minimum Response Rates for Survey Research

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of GI/Endocrine Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas (Dr Livingston); and JAMA, Chicago, Illinois (Mr Wislar).

Arch Surg. 2012;147(2):110. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.2169

Oreskovich et al1 conducted an electronic survey of surgeons to determine the prevalence of alcohol abuse. Surgeons who abuse alcohol are at risk for livelihood-threatening sanctions should this behavior be exposed. Despite reassurances of confidentiality, questionnaire responses may still be considered risky by surgeons with much to lose. The response rate for this survey was only 29%, far lower than the 60% minimum required by some biomedical journals. Why do response rates matter? The answer is complicated.

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