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Am J Epidemiol. 1999 May 15;149(10):950-4.

Application of computer-assisted interviews to sexual behavior research.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University, New Orleans 70112, USA.

Abstract

Collection of sensitive data with the use of video-enhanced, computer-assisted, self-administered interviews (V-CASI) has the potential to reduce interview bias and improve the validity of the study. The purpose of this study was to compare responses to sensitive questions elicited by V-CASI and by face-to-face interview (FTFI) methods. Women attending a New Orleans, Louisiana, public family planning or sexually transmitted disease clinic from July 1995 to July 1996, diagnosed with a Chlamydia trachomatis infection responded to eight close-ended behavioral questions (four socially undesirable, two socially desirable, and two neutral behaviors) using both FTFI and V-CASI techniques in a randomized crossover design. Of the 280 women included, the mean age was 23 years, 95 percent were African American, and 71 percent felt comfortable using computers. While kappa scores indicated good-to-excellent agreement between interview techniques, women tended to admit to socially undesirable behaviors more often on V-CASI compared with FTFI. Thirty percent of the women gave a discrepant response between V-CASI and FTFI toward social desirability. Women who reported a socially undesirable behavior in V-CASI (i.e., more than two sex partners and infrequent condom usage) were more likely to have a discrepant response. Utilization of the same logistic regression model to predict condom use yielded different results when data from V-CASI were used compared with data from FTFI. The V-CASI technique can reduce social desirability bias and improve validity in research requiring information on sensitive sexual behaviors.

PIP:

Bias needs to be minimized when conducting survey-based research in order to produce more valid results. Reporting biases are more likely to occur when sensitive behaviors are being investigated. Research suggests that computer-assisted, self-administered interviews (CASIs) may produce more valid reports of sensitive behaviors than will the more traditional survey techniques such as face-to-face interviews (FTFIs). Findings are reported from a study conducted to compare responses to sensitive questions administered through video-enhanced CASIs (V-CASIs) and FTFIs. 280 women of mean age 23 years attending a New Orleans, Louisiana, public family planning or STD clinic from July 1995 to July 1996, diagnosed with Chlamydia trachomatis infection responded to 8 close-ended sexual behavioral questions using both survey techniques in a randomized crossover design. 95% of the women were Black and 71% felt at ease using computers. Although kappa scores indicated good-to-excellent agreement between interview techniques, the women tended to admit to socially undesirable behaviors more often upon V-CASIs than upon FTFIs. 30% of the women gave a discrepant response between V-CASI and FTFI toward social desirability. Women who reported a socially undesirable behavior in V-CASIs were more likely to have a discrepant response. Use of the same logistic regression model to predict condom use yielded different results when data from V-CASIs were used compared with data from FTFIs. Findings suggest that the V-CASI technique can reduce social desirability bias and improve validity in research requiring data on sensitive sexual behaviors.

PMID:
10342804
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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