Survey response in colorectal surgery: A systematic review

Vincent M. Meyer*, Stan Benjamens, Joost Keupers, Louise B.D. Banning, Robert A. Pol, Johan F.M. Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Survey research is widely used for developing value-based management strategies in colorectal surgery. However, declining response rates threaten the validity of results. Our aim is to identify factors that influence response rate in colorectal surgical surveys and provide recommendations for future survey design.

Methods: We performed a (MEDLINE) search between 2007 and 2020 for survey studies in colorectal surgery providing response rates.

Results: Our search revealed 5693 studies, of which 128 studies were included. Patients with colorectal cancer have a lower mean response rate than patients with benign pathology (62.8% vs 75.5%, p < 0.001). Response rate depends on the mode of survey; conducted in person (76%), postal (68%), email (61%) and web-based (44%). Patients participate more often than doctors (P < 0.001). Reminders can positively influence response rates in postal patient surveys (p = 0.03). The proportion of web-based doctor surveys has grown over time (p < 0.01) and overall survey response is declining over time (p = < 0.01).

Conclusion: In-person surveying should be explored first in colorectal surgery, especially when addressing colorectal cancer patients and doctors. Reminders are useful to boost response rate in postal surveys directed at patients. Web-based doctor surveys generate the lowest response rate. As response rate is declining, it is important to address these factors when designing and reviewing colorectal surgical survey studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100068
Number of pages6
JournalSurgery in Practice and Science
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2022


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Postal
  • Response rate
  • Survey

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