Several recent adolescent health studies in Vietnam have shown low levels of premarital sex among youth compared to neighboring countries and other regions of the world. One possible explanation for these findings is that adolescents in Vietnam are less willing to reveal their true behaviors. This study aims to assess the level of reporting of sensitive behaviors/events using three methods of survey data collection: face-to-face interviewer-administered (IA), paper-and-pencil self-administered (SA) and AudioComputerAssisted Self Interview (ACASI).
A randomized experiment was undertaken in Gialam, a suburb of Hanoi, among a sample of 2,394 youth ages 15 to 24 years. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of three interviewing methods, with females and males evaluated separately.
ACASI showed certain advantages with regard to respondent attitudes and perceptions of sensitive topics. ACAI also revealed higher prevalence rates for sensitive and stigmatized behaviors. Among those in the pencil and paper survey group it is estimated that 12.9% of unmarried males and 3.4% of unmarried females have had premarital sex. The rate found by using ACASI is higher at 17.1% in males (95% CI: 13.5–21.4) and 4.5% in females (95% CI: 2.7–7.3). Using ACASI, unmarried males also reported higher levels of risky sexual relations. For example, 7.8% confirmed visiting sex workers compared with only 1.2% in SA group and 3.9% in IA group. Additionally, ACASI respondents reported having had more sex partners by age group, gender and marital status.
When coupled with the emerging data from around the world, the present findings suggest that researchers should consider using ACASI for future studies dealing with sensitive and stigmatized topics.