• Journal Article

Asking Sensitive Questions: The Impact of Data Collection Mode, Question Format, and Question Context

Citation

Tourangeau, R., & Smith, T. W. (1996). Asking Sensitive Questions: The Impact of Data Collection Mode, Question Format, and Question Context. Public Opinion Quarterly, 60(2), 275-304.

Abstract

This study compared three methods of collecting survey data about sexual behaviors and other sensitive topics: computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), computer-assisted self-administered interviewing (CASI), and audio computer-assisted self-administered interviewing (ACASI). Interviews were conducted with an area probability sample of more than 300 adults in Cook County, Illinois. The experiment also compared open and closed questions about the number of sex partners and varied the context in which the sex partner itemswere embeded. The three mode groups did not differ in response rates, but the mode of data collection did affect the level of reporting of sensitive behaviors: both forms of self-administration tended to reduce the disparity between men and women in the number of sex partners reported. Self-administration, especially via ACASI, also increased the proportion of respondents admitting that they had used illicit drugs. In addition, when the closed answer options emphasized the low end of the distribution, fewer sex partners were reported than when the options emphasized the high end of the distribution; responses to the open-ended versions of the sex partner items generally fell between responses to the two closed versions