Journal Article

Consistency in the reporting of sexual behaviour by adolescent girls in Kenya: A comparison of interviewing methods

To investigate in a district in Kenya the level and consistency of reporting of sexual behavior among adolescent girls randomly assigned to two modes of survey interview: face-to-face interview and audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI).

The analysis is based on a subsample of over 700 never-married girls aged 15–21 years in Kisumu, Kenya, drawn from a population-based survey of over 2,100 respondents. A questionnaire with 69 questions was used, two-thirds of which were considered sensitive, including questions about risky sexual behaviour, alcohol and drug use, contraceptive practice, pregnancy, induced abortions, and births.

ACASI produced significantly higher reporting of sex with a relative, stranger, or older man, and higher reporting of coerced sex. However, differences by mode for ever had sex and sex with a boyfriend were not significant. Relative to ACASI, the interviewer administered mode produced highly consistent reporting of sexual activity, both within the main interview and between the main and exit interviews.

Both the mode of survey administration and the probing for various behaviors significantly affect the observed prevalence of sexual activity. The ACASI results suggest that adolescent girls in Kenya have more complex and perilous sex lives than traditional face-to-face surveys of sexual activity indicate. The level of consistency in the interviewer mode is argued to be suspect, particularly given the much lower levels of reporting, relative to ACASI, for types of sexual partners and coerced sexual activity.