Brief Report

AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1054-1062

First online:

Polling Booth Surveys: A Novel Approach for Reducing Social Desirability Bias in HIV-Related Behavioural Surveys in Resource-Poor Settings

  • Catherine M. LowndesAffiliated withURESP, Centre de Recherche FRSQ du CHA Universitaire de QuébecDepartment of HIV & Sexually Transmitted Infections, Health Protection Services—Colindale, Health Protection AgencyLondon School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Email author 
  • , A. A. JayachandranAffiliated withCHARME-India Project
  • , Pradeep BanandurAffiliated withCHARME-India ProjectRajarajeswari Medical College and Hospital
  • , Banadakoppa M. RameshAffiliated withUniversity of ManitobaKarnataka Health Promotion Trust
  • , Reynold WashingtonAffiliated withKarnataka Health Promotion TrustSt. John’s Medical College and Hospital
  • , B. M. SangameshwarAffiliated withKarnataka Health Promotion TrustKaruna Medical College and Hospital
  • , Stephen MosesAffiliated withUniversity of Manitoba
  • , James BlanchardAffiliated withUniversity of Manitoba
  • , Michel AlaryAffiliated withURESP, Centre de Recherche FRSQ du CHA Universitaire de QuébecDépartement de médecine sociale et préventive, Université Laval

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This study compared rates of HIV-related sexual risk behaviours reported in individual face-to-face (FTFI) and group anonymous polling booth (PBS) interviews in India. In PBS, respondents grouped by gender and marital status answered yes/no questions by putting tokens with question numbers in colour-coded containers. Data were subsequently collated for each group as a whole, so responses were not traceable back to individuals. Male and female PBS participants reported substantially higher rates of pre-marital, extra-marital, commercial and anal sex than FTFI participants; e.g. 11 vs. 2% married males reported paying for sex; 6 vs. 1% unmarried males reported homosexual anal sex.


India HIV Social desirability bias Sexual behaviour Survey methodologies Interviewing techniques