AIM: The purpose of this paper is to describe the recruitment strategies, the response rates and the reasons for non-response of Malaysian public and private primary care doctors in an international survey on the quality, cost and equity in primary care.
BACKGROUND: Low research participation by primary care doctors, especially those working in the private sector, is a challenge to quality benchmarking.
METHODS: Primary care doctors were sampled through multi-stage sampling. The first stage-sampling unit was the primary care clinics, which were randomly sampled from five states in Malaysia to reflect their proportions in two strata - sector (public/private) and location (urban/rural). Strategies through endorsement, personalised invitation, face-to-face interview and non-monetary incentives were used to recruit public and private doctors. Data collection was carried out by fieldworkers through structured questionnaires.
FINDINGS: A total of 221 public and 239 private doctors participated in the study. Among the public doctors, 99.5% response rates were obtained. Among the private doctors, a 32.8% response rate was obtained. Totally, 30% of private clinics were uncontactable by telephone, and when these were excluded, the overall response rate is 46.8%. The response rate of the private clinics across the states ranges from 31.5% to 34.0%. A total of 167 answered the non-respondent questionnaire. Among the non-respondents, 77.4 % were male and 22.6% female (P = 0.011). There were 33.6% of doctors older than 65 years (P = 0.003) and 15.9% were from the state of Sarawak (P = 0.016) when compared to non-respondents. Reason for non-participation included being too busy (51.8%), not interested (32.9%), not having enough patients (9.1%) and did not find it beneficial (7.9%). Our study demonstrated the feasibility of obtaining favourable response rate in a survey involving doctors from public and private primary care settings.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.