Reliable information about risky sexual behavior among teenagers and young adults can be collected now by an affordable, user-friendly device.
This device has been developed by Brown University sociologists, and it allows the respondents to communicate nonverbally and confidentially during face-to-face interviews.
Their new nonverbal response card is an 8.5-by-11 inch laminated sheet of paper with a respondent side and an interviewer side.
Each side is divided into 35 cells with a small hole punched through the center of each cell. On the respondent side of the card, the cells contain written and color-coded responses.
The numeric responses, for questions such as the number of sexual partners or age at first sex, range from 0-25, marked with both a written number and vertical bars for tallying.
The non-numeric responses (yes, no, and does not apply) are written in local languages and also color-coded with green, red, and blue. On the interviewer side of the card, each cell contains a unique survey-specific three-digit number.
Respondents answer questions by poking a stick through the punched hole of the answer they wish to give. The interviewer records the code.
The research team tested the card in a survey of 1,269 Ethiopian men and women aged 13 to 24.
The researchers found that respondents were twice as likely to report having premarital sex when using a nonverbal response card.
Virtually no respondents answering the questions verbally admitted to being at risk of acquiring HIV, compared to 3.8 percent of the respondents who used the card method.
The researchers found that young people over-report knowledge of condoms when they give verbal responses: About half of the single respondents giving verbal responses reported knowing where to obtain a condom, compared to only 37 percent of the single respondents in the card group.
The findings were published in the Studies in Family Planning.