Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.10, No.2, 1994. pp. 197214

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Audio and Video Computer Assisted Self-Interviewing: Preliminary Tests of New Technologies for Data Collection

Results are reported from a preliminary study testing a new technology for survey data collection: audio computer assisted self-interviewing. This technology has the theoretical potential of providing privacy (or anonymity) of response equivalent to that of paper self-administered questionnaires (SAQs). In addition, it could offer the advantages common to all computer assisted methods such as the ability to implement complex questionnaire logic, consistency checking, etc. In contrast to Video-CASI, Audio-CASI offers these potential advantages without limiting data collection to the literate segment of the population. In this preliminary study, results obtained using RTI's Audio-CASI system were compared to those for paper SAQs and for Video-CASI. Survey questionnaires asking about drug use, sexual behavior, income, and demographic characteristics were administered to a small sample (N=40) of subjects of average and below-average reading abilities using each method of data collection. While the small sample size renders many results suggestive rather than definitive, the study did demonstrate that both Audio- and Video-CASI systems work well even with subjects who do not have extensive familiarity with computers. Indeed, respondents preferred the Audio- and Video-CASI to paper SAQs. The computerized systems also eliminated errors in execution of “skip” instructions that occurred when subjects completed paper SAQs. In a number of instances, the computerized systems also appeared to encourage more complete reporting of sensitive behaviors such as use of illicit drugs. Among the two CASI systems, respondents rated Audio-CASI more favorably than Video-CASI in terms of interest, ease of use, and overall preference.

Survey measurement; survey technology; computer assisted interviewing (CAI); Audio-CASI; Video-CASI; self-administered questionnaires; sensitive behaviors; sexual behavior measurement; drug use measurement; income measurement.

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