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BMJ. 2007 October 20; 335(7624): 818.
PMCID: PMC2034726

Clint's favourite question

Hannah Kuper, lecturer in epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London

Clint is an interviewer for a study investigating the relation between poverty and blindness in the Philippines. His parents were keen film fans and named their son after their hero Clint Eastwood. During the fieldwork, Clint and his friend Erwin slept in a tent in the living room of the house shared by the interviewers, because they were scared of the large gecko that roamed around. They made constant jokes about Brokeback Mountain.

Clint's task was to interview people visually impaired from cataract, and controls matched for age and sex, about their poverty and quality of life. Each interview lasted about an hour and included a long list questions about food and other things that the household spent money on each month. People were also asked about their general wellbeing, how they spent their time, and how their vision affected their life.

I asked Clint about his least favourite part of the interview. Not surprisingly, he mentioned the expenditure data, as this section is long and tedious. And his favourite part? He quickly responded, “When I ask them how much they would be able to rent out their house for.” Almost all the study participants were very poor and lived in rural areas, often in shacks that they had built themselves.

Clint mentioned that the interviewees were very serious throughout the interviews, but at this question they would always look up and smile. “Who would rent my house?” they would ask.

Clint would insist, “I do, I want to rent your house. How much for?” He always got an answer out of them in the end.


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