Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Alternative Modes of Data Collection

06/01/2002

For sensitive questions, one of the most consistent findings from the experimental literature indicates that the use of self-administered questionnaires results in higher reports of threatening behavior. For example, in studies of illicit drug use, the increase in reports of use was directly related to the perceived level of sensitivity, greatest for the reporting of recent cocaine use, less profound but still significant with respect to marijuana and alcohol use. Alternative modes could involve the administration of the questions by an interviewer, with the respondent completing the response categories using paper and pencil, or administration of the questionnaire through a portable cassette and self-recording of responses. More recently, face-to-face data collection efforts have experimented with CASID in which the respondent reads the questions from the computer screen and directly enters the responses and ACASI, in which the questions can be heard over headphones as well as read by the respondent. The latter has the benefit of not requiring the respondent to be literate; furthermore, it can be programmed to permit efficient multilingual administration without requiring multilingual survey interviewers. In addition, both computer-assisted approaches offer the advantage that complicated skip patterns, not possible with paper and pencil self-administered questionnaires, can be incorporated into the questionnaire. Similar methods are possible in telephone surveys, with the use of push-button or voice recognition technology for the self-administered portion of the questionnaire.

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