• Conference Proceeding

A System for Detecting Interviewer Falsification


Murphy, J., Baxter, R., Eyerman, J., Cunningham, D., & Kennet, J. (2004). A System for Detecting Interviewer Falsification. In American Association for Public Opinion Research 59th Annual Conference,Phoenix, AZ: AAPOR.


The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a federally sponsored annual survey that gathers data on substance use and abuse among the non-institutionalized civilian population of the United States, has developed a detailed system for the detection of interviewer falsification. This process includes phone, mail, and in-person field verification procedures, and the review of interview and interviewer-level process data to identify cases and interviewers requiring extra verification efforts. While these components of the system can successfully identify potential falsifiers, more savvy falsifiers may be able to remain undetected if they are aware that their data are being scrutinized.

To address this gap, the NSDUH has recently added a new component to the falsification detection system: the regular review of interview response and question-level timing data. Response distributions for each interviewer are compared to those from other interviewers to identify interviewers whose responses appear to be highly unlikely, given their caseloads. These additional measures make it even more difficult for falsifiers to remain undetected, since they would need to have a specific understanding of the prevalence and correlates of substance use in order to enter likely responses. Similarly, questionlevel timings for particular items that require certain interviewer-respondent interactions are analyzed to detect outliers. Once potential falsifiers are identified, the work of the suspected interviewers is subject to 100% and/or in-person verification.