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J Clin Epidemiol. 2002 May;55(5):505-11.

Comparability of epidemiological information between self- and interviewer-administered questionnaires.

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Department of Public Health, Aichi Prefectural College of Nursing and Health, Tougoku, Kamishidami, Moriyama-ku, Nagoya 463-8502, Japan


The aim of the present study was to determine the extent to which respondents provided the same answers to a health-related lifestyle questionnaire in self- and interviewer-administered forms. A total of 234 subjects completed a 110-item questionnaire in both interviewer and self-administered forms. Modes of administration were separated by a 2-week interval. The order was determined by random allocation. The presence and the extent of the tendency to give socially acceptable responses were evaluated using percentage of bias calculated as the ratio of the difference in proportion of positive responses or the mean between interviews and questionnaires and those in questionnaires. All percentages of bias were in the positive direction, ranging from 1.4% (physical exercise) to 26.1% (general life stress). The average percentage of bias was higher in women than in men and were stronger for younger respondents. The age differences between interviewer and respondent were inversely and most strongly related to percentage of bias. Self- and interviewer-administered questionnaires yield very similar results in discriminating between subjects, but the interviewer-administered questionnaire showed systematically more desirable responses to questions related to lifestyle factors. The differences in characteristics between interviewer and respondent may be important determinants of the socially desirability bias in the interview.

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