Sunday 11 December 2016

Scratch cards are the just the ticket for cancer researchers

Published 07/04/2015 | 02:30

Inclusion of a scratch card led to a modest increase in response to postal questionnaires.
Inclusion of a scratch card led to a modest increase in response to postal questionnaires.

A simple lottery ticket has proven a winner for Irish cancer researchers who need to incentivise cancer patients to respond to their surveys.

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The National Cancer Registry pointed out that the number of cancer survivors is growing globally and there is extensive interest in investigating the experiences and patient-reported outcomes of those living with and after cancer.

It said pPostal surveys have been used to collect data on many patient-reported outcomes. However, non-response can pose problems including reducing the statistical power of the study and limiting the findings. So it is " crucial to identify successful, cost-effective strategies to maximise the response of cancer patients and survivors to questionnaires."

As part of the HRB-funded PiCTure (Prostate Cancer Treatment, your experience) study researchers compared two modest monetary incentives.The first involved inclusion of a €1 lottery scratch card with the postal questionnaire.

The other offered entry into a prize draw with the chance of winning a €300 voucher conditional upon questionnaire completion.

They found inclusion of a €1 lottery scratch-card resulted in a statistically significant but modest 2.6pc increase in response compared to the conditional incentive of entry into a prize draw when all responders were considered.

However, the effect was most pronounced in long-term cancer survivors ie. those who were 5 years or more beyond their diagnosis. The costs per completed questionnaire were higher in the lottery than the prize arms.

The authors said this is the first time that a lottery scratch card incentive has been shown to have a positive effect on questionnaire response among cancer survivors.

"The findings suggest that, although more expensive, to optimise response to postal questionnaires among cancer survivors, researchers might consider inclusion of a lottery scratch card."

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