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Comparing Sexual Assault Prevalence Estimates Obtained With Direct and Indirect Questioning Techniques

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2011
17 pages
This article compares two interview techniques to determine which yields a higher estimate of prevalence of sexual assault.
Concerns have been expressed about the validity of self-reported data on sexual assault, as victims might be reluctant to disclose what happened to them. In this study, using an anonymous, Web-based survey, a sample of 5,446 undergraduate women were asked about their experiences with physically forced sexual assault using both direct and indirect questioning methods. The prevalence of physically forced sexual assault obtained via indirect questioning was slightly higher than, though not substantially or statistically different from, the estimate obtained via direct questioning. The results suggest that either direct questioning yields reasonably valid estimates of the prevalence of sexual assault or that the item count technique does not produce estimates that are any more valid. (Published Abstract)
Date Published: February 1, 2011