393.6 The effects of web-based and paper-and-pencil questionnaire administration in school surveys on substance use

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 12:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Marcis TRAPENCIERIS , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Latvia
Sigita SNIKERE , Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia, Latvia
Introduction.  For more than a decade social researchers have been looking into employing computerized instruments in school surveys, which have traditionally used paper-and-pencil (P&P) questionnaires.

Objective.  The aim of this study is to investigate differences in responses to questions about tobacco, alcohol and drug use between two modes of questionnaire administration: web-based and paper-and-pencil.

Study design.  A total of 691 students aged 14-17 in 32 classes in Riga city were randomly assigned to one of the two modes of questionnaire administration.  The questionnaire used for 2011 data collection in Latvia within framework of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) was tested.  The questionnaire included questions about substance use (use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other drugs) as well as questions about leisure time, attitudes, risk perceptions, etc.  The differences in results between the two modes of questionnaire administration were tested by logistic regression. 

Results.  All but a few substance use prevalence rates were found to be higher among respondents of the web-based questionnaire but none of differences was found to be statistically significant after controlling for cluster effects, age and gender.

Conclusions.  This study revealed that computer administered surveys are feasible in school settings in Latvia.  The higher reported substance use prevalence rates for web version of the questionnaire, although not statistically significant, makes us cautious about recommending changing from the traditional P&P mode, especially for surveys with trend data.  Web-based questionnaire was very well perceived by respondents as well as by school administration, which is crucial to consider in the future in the light of decreasing response rates.  As reduction in costs of web-based as compared with traditional surveys is considerable, it would make studies more affordable, especially in countries with limited resources.