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To investigate the quality of self-reported data on sexual behavior, Population Council researchers conducted a study in a rural district of Malawi. They implemented a randomized experiment to assess whether audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI) produces more valid data on sexual behavior than face-to-face interviews. The Malawi study builds on an experiment conducted as part of a household-based survey of Kenyan adolescents. In Kenya and Malawi, there is clear evidence that mode of interviewing and probing of various sexual partnerships affect the reporting of sexual activity. According to Promoting Healthy, Safe, and Productive Transitions to Adulthood Brief No. 25, ACASI is a feasible methodology to use in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa among adolescent populations unfamiliar with computers. Computerized interviewing improves quality of data on highly sensitive behaviors collected from adolescents. Given the importance of data on sexual behavior both in understanding the etiology of the AIDS epidemic and in clinical testing of products and technologies to reduce transmission of sexually transmitted infections, more research is needed on the interaction between interviewers and respondents and on reactions to the computer in developing-country populations.






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