Poor recall, misunderstandings and embarrassment: Interpreting discrepancies in young men's reported heterosexual behaviour

Wight, D. (1999) Poor recall, misunderstandings and embarrassment: Interpreting discrepancies in young men's reported heterosexual behaviour. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 1(1), pp. 55-78. (doi:10.1080/136910599301166)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/136910599301166

Abstract

Since the advent of AIDS the importance of getting accurate information on sexual behaviour has greatly increased. However, when 58 young Glaswegian men were interviewed twice at a year's interval, first as part of a general health and lifestyle survey and then in an in-depth interview focusing on sex, there were considerable discrepancies between the two studies in reported sexual behaviour and knowledge. There was poor concordance on age and contraception at first intercourse and on number of sexual partners at age 18. With respect to their understanding of the phrase 'safer sex' there was virtually no consistency between the two studies. This paper compares the two research methods and specifically addresses the issue of the reliability and validity of data on sexual behaviour collected in each. Among several possible explanations for the discrepancies, three emerged as the most likely: poor recall, inadequate understanding of the question, and differing presentational concerns, particularly related to embarrassment. Poor recall and embarrassment are especially plausible explanations because they can account for discrepancies in both directions. While the evidence suggests that the in-depth interview data have greater validity than the survey data, the analysis identifies ways of improving survey methods on sex.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wight, Professor Danny
Authors: Wight, D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Culture, Health and Sexuality
ISSN:1369-1058
ISSN (Online):1464-5351

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