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Objectives: To investigate in a district in Kenya the level and consistency of reporting of sexual behaviour among adolescent girls randomly assigned to two modes of survey interview: face to face interview and audio computer assisted self-interview (ACASI).
Methods: 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 2100 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusions: Both the mode of survey administration and the probing for various behaviours 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.