Does modality of survey administration impact data quality: audio computer assisted self interview (ACASI) versus self-administered pen and paper?

PLoS One. 2010 Jan 15;5(1):e8728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008728.


Background: In the context of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on HIV testing in the emergency department (ED) setting, we evaluated preferences for survey modality and data quality arising from each modality.

Methods: Enrolled participants were offered the choice of answering a survey via audio computer assisted self-interview (ACASI) or pen and paper self-administered questionnaire (SAQ). We evaluated factors influencing choice of survey modality. We defined unusable data for a particular survey domain as answering fewer than 75% of the questions in the domain. We then compared ACASI and SAQ with respect to unusable data for domains that address sensitive topics.

Results: Of 758 enrolled ED patients, 218 (29%) chose ACASI, 343 chose SAQ (45%) and 197 (26%) opted not to complete either. Results of the log-binomial regression indicated that older (RR = 1.08 per decade) and less educated participants (RR = 1.25) were more likely to choose SAQ over ACASI. ACASI yielded substantially less unusable data than SAQ.

Conclusions: In the ED setting there may be a tradeoff between increased participation with SAQ versus better data quality with ACASI. Future studies of novel approaches to maximize the use of ACASI in the ED setting are needed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Computers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged