Known as ACASI, for audio computer-assisted self-interviewing, the system was tested for the first time in a developing country by the UCSF team.
"We struggle with how to ask questions and conduct interviews to get honest answers about sensitive HIV risk behavior. As one woman said, 'sometimes you are tempted to lie because you feel shy.' With ACASI, even though most of the women were using a computer for the first time, they loved the experience and it seems that we obtained more accurate data for some key HIV risks," said study investigator Alexandra M. Minnis, PhD, epidemiologist with the UCSF Women's Global Health Imperative (WGHI).
Minnis presented the findings today (July 29) at the 15th Biennial Congress of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Ottawa, Canada.
With ACASI, study participants listen to questions using headphones and type in simple answers on a laptop computer. They are taught how to use the computer and are given time to practice before the interview. In addition, they are able to go back and change responses if they so desire. Only ten percent of the Zimbabwean women in the study had ever used a computer before.
Seventy percent preferred the computer, one percent preferred face to face interviews, and the remainder had no preference. Participants using ACASI reported higher rates of multiple partners in the previous three months and higher use of withdrawal and rhythm methods of contraception than rates reported in face-to-face interviews. Reports of pregnancy were also higher with ACASI, indicating that women were not using condoms or hormonal methods of contraception.