A New Method for Recording Responses to Questions About Traumatic Sexual Life Events: Evidence of the Use of the Nonverbal Response Card Method in a Survey of Adolescents in Rural Burkina Faso

Guy Harling , University College London
Mamadou Bountogo, Centre de Recherche en Santé de Nouna
Ali Sié, Centre de Recherche en Santé de Nouna
Till Barnighausen, Harvard University
David P. Lindstrom, Brown University

In an effort to limit social desirability bias in face-to-face survey interviews, we conducted an individually-randomized experiment by assigning 50% of respondents to the conventional verbal response method and 50% to the non-verbal response card (NVRC) method. NVRCs provide a low-tech method for respondents to non-verbally respond to sensitive questions without revealing the nature of their response to the interviewer. As part of a larger health questionnaire, we asked 1544 12-20 years olds in rural Burkina Faso about their history of physical violence, sexual debut, sexual unwanted attention/violence, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. NVRC respondents provided logically consistent responses. NVRC respondents reported similar patterns of physical assault and sexual debut as verbal respondents, but significantly higher levels of sexual assault, forced sex and PTSD symptoms. Our findings suggest that NVRC may be practical and beneficial in a low-literacy population for reducing underreporting of stigmatized and traumatic experiences.

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 Presented in Session 68. Capturing Hard-to-Measure Outcomes in Sexual and Reproductive Health