Article

Reducing socially desirable responses in epidemiologic surveys: An extension of the Randomized-Response Technique. Epidemiology, 21, 379-382

Institute of Experimental Psychology, University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany.
Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass.) (Impact Factor: 6.18). 05/2010; 21(3):379-82. DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181d61dbc
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Even though the validity of self-reports of sensitive behaviors is threatened by social desirability bias, interviews and questionnaires are widely used in epidemiologic surveys on these topics.
In the randomized-response technique, a randomization device is used to determine whether participants are asked to respond truthfully or whether they are prompted to provide a prespecified response. In this study, the randomized-response technique was extended by using a cheating-detection modification to obtain more valid data. The survey was on the dental hygiene habits of Chinese college students.
Whereas only 35% of men and 10% of women admitted to insufficient dental hygiene when questioned directly, 51% of men and 20% of women attested to this socially undesirable behavior in a randomized-response survey.
Given the considerable discrepancy between the results obtained by direct questioning and by using the randomized-response technique, we propose that this technique be considered for use in epidemiologic studies of sensitive behaviors.

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    • "Finally, the present study relied on self-reports so the validity of the responses cannot be guaranteed (Tourangeau and Yan, 2007; Moshagen et al., 2010). The effects of these concerns were held to a minimum in the present investigation through assurances of confidentiality and anonymity. "
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