Brewer, D. D.,
& Garrett, S. B. (2001). Evaluation of interviewing techniques to
enhance recall of sexual and drug injection partners.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 28, 666-677.
Objectives: People with multiple sexual partners forget a
of their partners, and drug injectors forget a large proportion of
the persons with whom they inject drugs. This incomplete
reporting poses a problem to partner notification and social network
research on infectious disease. We evaluated supplementary
interviewing techniques to enhance recall of sexual and injection
Study Design: One hundred thirty-nine persons at high risk
for HIV participated in a randomized trial of interviewing
techniques. After subjects freely recalled their partners,
interviewers administered one of five techniques to elicit partners who
might have been forgotten. Four experimental techniques involved
cues (locations, role relationships, personal timeline, and partners
recalled prior to cues) developed from memory research.
Alphabetic cues served as a control technique. To assess the
techniques' cumulative effects, we administered all five techniques to
another 19 subjects.
Results: In the randomized trial, the techniques varied
moderately in effectiveness and time efficiency. When
administered as a set, the five techniques increased the number of
sexual and injection partners elicited by 40% and 123%, respectively,
on average. The techniques were most effective with individuals
who recalled many partners before the cues and/or sensed they may be
forgetting partners. The available evidence indicates
cue-elicited partners are as valid as partners recalled before the
cues. Cue-elicited partners also are similar to partners recalled
before the cues on epidemiologically significant variables.
Conclusion: The supplementary techniques counteract
forgetting appreciably and may promote more effective partner
notification and more complete description of risk networks.
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