Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Norman Gordon, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Rosalyn Barclay, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ellen Koch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tamara Penix, Ph.D.


With the continuing improvement and development of technology, research methods have struggled to keep up with the changing times in terms of demonstrating the utility of newer technology. The development and continued improvement of the Internet presents an opportunity to explore the utility of this mode of administration for the assessment of these sensitive behaviors. This study examined the use of long-distance methods of high-risk sexual behavior assessment and compared the more traditional methods of mailed surveys and telephone interviews to newer and more technological methods of electronic mail and Internet.

Seven hundred and eighty participants were randomly assigned into four groups. Each group received the Sexual History Survey in a different long-distance assessment method (i.e., postal, telephone, electronic mail, and Internet). The four groups were compared to one another on accuracy of data, unit and item response rates, perceived intrusiveness, enjoyment of method, and use of resources.

Results demonstrate that the telephone group appeared to respond in a more socially desirable manner than the other groups in responses to high-risk sexual behavior items but demonstrated the highest unit and item response rates due to the methodology of the study and the perseverance of the principal investigator. However, the technological methods demonstrated favorable unit and item response rates when compared to the postal method. There were no group differences in perceived intrusiveness of the study, but participants did report that the technological methods were more enjoyable to take and they also demonstrated the highest amount of method loyalty when queried about method choice upon readministration. The technological methods also tended to cost the least per response received and used the least amount of the principal investigator’s time to develop and administer. Finally, the speed at which responses were received via the technological means was far superior to the rate of the traditional methods.

These findings support the use of the Internet in the assessment of high-risk sexual behaviors and also suggest that the use of the Internet may lead to more accurate responses and better data quality.