Evaluation of the Total Design Method in a survey of Japanese dentists
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Background: This study assessed the application of the Total Design Method (TDM) in a mail survey of Japanese dentists. The TDM was chosen because survey response rates in Japan are unacceptably low and the TDM had previously been used in a general population survey. Methods: Four hundred and seventy eight dentist members of the Okayama Medical and Dental Practitioner's Association were surveyed. The nine-page, 27-item questionnaire covered dentist job satisfaction, physical practice, and dentist and patient characteristics. Respondents to the first mailing or the one-week follow-up postcard were defined as early responders; others who responded were late responders. Responder bias was assessed by examining age, gender and training. Results: The overall response rate was 46.7% (223/478). The response rates by follow-up mailing were, 18% after the first mailing, 35.4% after the follow-up postcard, 42.3% after the second mailing, and 46.7% after the third mailing. Respondents did not differ from non-respondents in age or gender, nor were there differences between early and late responders. Conclusion: The application of TDM in this survey of Japanese dentists produced lower rates of response than expected from previous Japanese and US studies.