Comparison of web-based versus paper-and-pencil self-administered questionnaire: effects on health indicators in Dutch adolescents

Health Serv Res. 2008 Oct;43(5 Pt 1):1708-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2008.00860.x. Epub 2008 May 13.


Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate differences in responses related to (mental) health and behavior between two methods of data collection: web-based (web) and paper-and-pencil (p&p).

Study design: Within each participating school all third-grade classes (mainly 14-15-year-old pupils) were randomly assigned to either the Internet condition (n=271) or the paper-and-pencil condition (n=261).

Principal findings: Significant but small differences were found for the strengths and difficulties subscales "emotional symptoms" (p&p>web) and "prosocial behavior" (p&p>web), and carrying a weapon (web>p&p). Perceived level of privacy and confidentiality did not differ between the two modes.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that in a controlled school setting, web-based administration of health indicators yields almost the same results as paper-and-pencil administration. To generalize these findings, we recommend repeated studies in other populations and settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Confidentiality
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Netherlands
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*