The feasibility and acceptability of handheld computers in a prospective diary study of adolescent sexual behaviour

Vannier, Sarah A.; O'Sullivan, Lucia F.
September 2008
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2008, Vol. 17 Issue 4, p183
Academic Journal
The use of electronic prospective diary methods for the collection of sensitive information such as sexual behaviour has become increasingly more prevalent, and a body of research examining respondent reactions to these methods has emerged. Unfortunately, this research has relied heavily on forced-choice answers and has consisted mainly of adult populations. The current study used a structured interview to gain an in-depth understanding of late adolescents' reactions toward using a handheld computer to provide information about their sexual behaviour. Participants included 49 adolescents (mean age = 18.33 years) enrolled in a mid-sized Canadian university. Participants completed a daily brief structured questionnaire, administered via a handheld computer, for a two-week period followed by a structured interview about their experiences with the method. Handheld computers were an effective method for collecting information about adolescent sexual behaviour. The response rate was 95.6% (655/686 person days). The majority of participants reported that the experience of participating in the study was positive, interesting, easy, and efficient. Suggestions for future research include using a computer with reminder capability, making forms accessible from any computer, and time-stamping forms to monitor daily completion. The findings emphasize the importance of researchers embracing technological advances in data collection and research methodology.


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