On-line life history calendar and sensitive topics: A pilot study

TitleOn-line life history calendar and sensitive topics: A pilot study
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsMorselli, D, Berchtold, A, Suris Granell, J-C, Berchtold, A
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Date Published05/2016
Keywordsevent history calendar, life history calendar, on-line survey, retrospective data collection, sensitive data

The use of the life history calendar (LHC) or the event history calendar as tools for collecting retrospective data has received increasing attention in many fields of social science and medicine. However, little research has examined the use of this method with web-based surveys. In this study, we adapted this method to an on-line setting to collect information about young adults' life histories, sexual behaviors, and substance use. We hypothesized that the LHC method would help respondents to date sensitive and non-sensitive events more precisely than when using a conventional questionnaire. We conducted an experimental design study comparing university students' responses to an on-line LHC and a conventional on-line question list. A test-retest design in which the respondents completed the survey again two weeks later was also applied to test the precision and reliability of the participants' dating of events. The results showed that whereas the numbers of sensitive and non-sensitive events were generally similar for the two on-line questionnaires, the responses obtained with the LHC were more consistent across the two administrations. Analyses of the respondents' on-line behavior while completing the LHC confirmed that respondents used the LHC's graphic interface to correct and reedit previous answers, thus decreasing data errors.

Refereed DesignationRefereed