Best-friend reports: a tool for measuring the prevalence of sensitive behaviors

Am J Public Health. 2011 Sep;101(9):1666-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300194. Epub 2011 Jul 21.


We introduce the best-friend methodology for using surveys to measure the population prevalence of sensitive behaviors. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this tool by comparing self-reports to best-friend reports of sexual behavior and abortion history among young women in Malawi (n = 1493). Best-friend reports reveal higher and more believable estimates of abortion and multiple sexual partners. In contexts in which best friends commonly discuss such behaviors, best-friend reports are an inexpensive and easily implemented tool.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Malawi
  • Male
  • Self Report
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Young Adult