Differences Between Landline and Mobile Phone Users in Sexual Behavior Research
This study investigated differences between the demographic characteristics, participation rates (i.e., agreeing to respond to questions about sexual behavior), and sexual behaviors of landline and mobile phone samples in Australia. A nationally representative sample of Australians aged 18 years and over was recruited via random digit dialing in December 2011 to collect data via computer-assisted telephone interviews. A total of 1012 people (370 men, 642 women) completed a landline interview and 1002 (524 men, 478 women) completed a mobile phone interview. Results revealed that telephone user status was significantly related to all demographic variables: gender, age, educational attainment, area of residence, country of birth, household composition, and current ongoing relationship status. In unadjusted analyses, telephone status was also associated with women’s participation rates, participants’ number of other-sex sexual partners in the previous year, and women’s lifetime sexual experience. However, after controlling for significant demographic factors, telephone status was only independently related to women’s participation rates. Post hoc analyses showed that significant, between-group differences for all other sexual behavior outcomes could be explained by demographic covariates. Results also suggested that telephone status may be associated with participation bias in research on sexual behavior. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of sampling both landline and mobile phone users to improve the representativeness of sexual behavior data collected via telephone interviews.
KeywordsTelephone surveys Demographic factors Sexual behavior
This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (Project Grant 1002174).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All study procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research ethics committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Australian Communications and Media Authority. (2010). Report 2: Take-up and use of voice services by Australian consumers. In 2009–2010 Communications Report Series. Melbourne: Australian Communications and Media Authority.Google Scholar
- Australian Communications and Media Authority. (2011). Report 2: Converging communication channels—Preferences and behaviours of Australian communications users, 2011. In 2010–2011 Communications Report Series. Melbourne: Australian Communications and Media Authority.Google Scholar
- Australian Communications and Media Authority. (2012). Communications report 2011–2012. Melbourne: Australian Communications and Media Authority.Google Scholar
- Barr, M. L., Van Ritten, J. J., Steel, D. G., & Thackway, S. V. (2012). Inclusion of mobile phone numbers into an ongoing population health survey in New South Wales, Australia: Design, methods, call outcomes, costs and sample representativeness. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 12, 177. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-12-177.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Blumberg, S. J., & Luke, J. V. (2010). Wireless substitution: Early release of estimates from the National Interview Survey, July–December 2009. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
- Blumberg, S. J., & Luke, J. V. (2012). Wireless substitution: Early release of estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, July–December 2011. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.Google Scholar
- Dunne, M. P., Martin, N. G., Bailey, J. M., Heath, A. C., Bucholz, K. K., Madden, P., & Statham, D. J. (1997). Participation bias in a sexuality survey: Psychological and behavioural characteristics of responders and non-responders. International Journal of Epidemiology, 26, 844–854.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Liu, B., Brotherton, J. M. L., Shellard, D., Donovan, B., Saville, M., & Kaldor, J. M. (2011). Mobile phones are a viable option for surveying young Australian women: A comparison of two telephone survey methods. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 11, 159. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-159.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Pennay, D. W. (2010). Profiling the ‘mobile phone only’ population: Results from a dual-frame telephone survey using a landline and mobile phone sample frame. Melbourne: Social Research Centre.Google Scholar
- Pennay, D. W. (2012). Social research centre dual-frame omnibus survey: Technical and methodological report. Melbourne: Social Research Centre.Google Scholar
- Rissel, C., Bauman, A., Lesjak, M., & McLellan, L. (2000). A 1994 population survey of the number of sexual partners over a 12 month period in New South Wales, Australia. Venereology, 13, 111–117.Google Scholar
- Vicente, P., & Reis, E. (2009). The mobile-only population in Portugal and its impact in a dual frame telephone survey. Survey Research Methods, 3, 105–111.Google Scholar