The New Zealand Partner Relations Survey: methodological results of a national telephone survey

AIDS. 1993 Nov;7(11):1509-16. doi: 10.1097/00002030-199311000-00016.


Objective: To implement and evaluated a national survey of sexual behaviour using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

Design: A two-stage stratified national sample survey in which households were selected by random digit-dialing (RDD), with a single eligible interviewee per selected household, followed by subsample surveys of non-contacts and refusals to determine eligibility.

Methods: A 15-minute questionnaire based on the Global Programme on AIDS (GPA)/World Health Organization (WHO) protocol was administered by telephone to a nationally representative sample of 2361 respondents in the 18-54-year age group.

Results: The overall response rate was 63%, but lower in the cities, in the 18-24 age group, and among men. Three-quarters of surveyed non-contacts, and a quarter of re-surveyed refusals, did not meet the eligibility criteria for the study. Less than 20% of refusals cited the subject matter of the survey as the reason for refusal. Item non-response (< 1%) increased with question sensitivity, and varied by respondent age, ethnicity and partnership status. Men reported twice as many adult lifetime partners as women.

Conclusions: The GPA/WHO protocol can be successfully adapted to administration by telephone, with adequate response rates and exceptionally low levels of item non-response. CATI is a cost-effective method for collecting national information on sexual behaviour in countries where there is a high level of telephone ownership. Used in conjunction with RDD, it can overcome problems of sample design in settings where there is no comprehensive population-sampling frame. Checks on item sensitivity and partner estimates suggest that acceptable levels of reliability can also be achieved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance* / methods
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Partners*
  • Telephone