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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.

abstract     full article

Background and Objectives: People with multiple sexual partners forget a significant proportion 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 partners. 
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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