The postal questionnaire and interviews

The questionnaires were posted to randomly selected residents of the 12 HCA’s (nine from within Birchwood and three “control” HCA’s from out­side). A total of 1181 were sent out and 336 were returned (response rate 28%). Out of these, 266 were from respondents in Birchwood, and 70 from the control sample outside. It was originally intended that there would be at least 30 responses from each HCA. Despite two separate mailings this target could not be met in two thirds of cases due to the small size of some of the HCA’s, and the resource constraints of the study. Whilst many of the findings are based on differences between the larger Birchwood and control samples (n=266/70) it is accepted that the small size of some of the HCA sub-samples means that any findings drawn from differences be­tween them must be somewhat tentative.

Subsequently semi-structured interviews were carried out with 39 of the questionnaire respondents drawn more or less evenly from the 12 HCA’s.