Reducing Sensitive Survey Response Bias in Research on Adolescents: A Comparison of Web-Based and Paper-and-Pencil Administration

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
David L. Wyrick, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: PURPOSE. Using the Problem Oriented Screening Instrument for Teenagers (POSIT), the effect of mode of administration on (1) students' willingness to disclose sensitive information and (2) response rates was investigated.DESIGN. A2 × 2 unequal N factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) design was employed. Mode of administration (paper-and-pencil vs. Web-based) was crossed with grade level (middle vs. high school).SETTING. The study was conducted in two middle and two high schools.SUBJECTS. A total of 628 middle and high school students completed the survey.MEASURES. The POSIT is a self-report measure with 139 yes/no items that identifies stressors in 10 functional areas (e.g., Substance Use).ANALYSIS. An unequal N 2 (mode) × 2 (grade level) factorial ANOVA was employed. RESULTS. No statistically significant differences were found for self-reported risk across modes of administration. Students completing the Web-based version of the survey were four times more likely to skip an item.CONCLUSIONS. Effect of Mode on Reporting of Sensitive Information—Students completed the Web-based surveys in computer labs with other students. The intent of the Web-based survey was to increase perceived privacy but the environment likely negated any effect. Effect of Mode on Response Rates—The higher response rate for the paper-and-pencil survey was the opposite of what was expected and revealed that students were more likely to skip sensitive items on the Web survey.

Additional Information

The American Journal of Health Promotion, 25(5), 349-352. (2011)
Language: English
Date: 2011
Response Bias, Survey, Web-Based, Paper-and-Pencil, Response Rates , Sensitive, Computerized, Adolescent, Middle School, High School

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