European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 333–340 | Cite as

The effect of reminders in a web-based intervention study

  • Madeleine Svensson
  • Tobias Svensson
  • Andreas Wolff Hansen
  • Ylva Trolle Lagerros


Knowledge on effective strategies to encourage participation in epidemiological web-based research is scant. We studied the effects of reminders on overall participation. 3,876 employees were e-mailed a baseline web-based lifestyle questionnaire. Nine months later, a follow-up questionnaire was sent. To encourage study participation, 4–5 and 11 e-mail reminders were sent at baseline and follow-up, respectively. Additional reminders (media articles, flyers, SMS etc) were also administered. Reminders (e-mails + additional) were given in low (≤6 reminders), medium (7–9 reminders) or high amounts (>9 reminders). Participation was examined with respect to participant characteristics (i.e. age, sex, Body Mass Index, occupation), type/number of reminders, and time of participation. Most participants were males, 35–49 years, and field workers (non-office based). About 29 % responded before any e-mail reminder, following 26 and 45 % after 1 respective ≥ 2 e-mail reminders. Participant characteristics were not related to when the participants responded. The 4–5 e-mail reminders increased total response rate by 15 %, the eleven by 21 % (greatest increases in September). Those receiving medium amounts of reminders (reference) had the highest response rate (75 %), likewise office workers (54 %) compared to field workers (33 %). High amounts of reminders were particularly effective on office workers. The participants’ characteristics were not related to when they responded in this web-based study. Frequent reminders were effective on response rates, especially for those with high Internet availability. The highest increases in response rates were found in September.


Epidemiology Internet Intervention Participation rate Reminders 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the following contributions to the conduct of this study: Dr. Julia Simard for her valuable comments and assistance in the writing process and analyses of the manuscript, Dr. Linda Bakkman for her planning of the intervention study of which the present study has been based on, student Judith van den Broek for her assistance in the recruitment process and data management of the preliminary results, and research colleagues (Stephan Rössner and Anna Westerlund) for valuable feedback in the writing process. Lastly, the authors would also like to thank the reviewers for valuable comments during the revision process. This research was financially supported by Banverket’s research fund, Sweden.

Conflict of interest

None declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Madeleine Svensson
    • 1
  • Tobias Svensson
    • 1
  • Andreas Wolff Hansen
    • 2
  • Ylva Trolle Lagerros
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit of Clinical Epidemiology, T2, Department of MedicineKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.National Institute of Public HealthUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark

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