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How Interviewers Affect Responses to Sensitive Questions on the Justification for Wife Beating, the Refusal to have Conjugal Sex, and Domestic Violence in India
Authors: Abhishek Singh,Kaushalendra Kumar, and Fred Arnold
Source: Studies in Family Planning, Volume 53, issue 2; DOI:
Topic(s): Data collection
Domestic violence
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Sexual behavior
Country: Asia
Published: JUN 2022
Abstract: Despite a general understanding that interviewers might cause measurement errors on sensitive questions in sample surveys, there is relatively little research on interviewer effects on responses to questions on women justifying a woman's refusal to have sex with her husband, women justifying wife beating, women's experience of physical and sexual violence, and whether the woman's father ever beat her mother. This study examines interviewer effects on these indicators that were collected in two large-scale National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) in India (2005–2006 and 2015–2016). We use cross-classified random intercept multivariable multilevel logit models to examine interviewer effects. In both surveys, we find large interviewer effects on questions about the justification of a woman refusing to have sex with her husband (32–33% in NFHS-3 and 45–46% in NFHS-4) and the justification of wife beating (27–28% in NFHS-3 and 33–34% in NFHS-4). The interviewer effects were much larger in the 2015–2016 survey than in the 2005–2006 survey. Such large interviewer effects should be considered when interpreting trends and patterns on these topics, especially since the interviewer effects might have changed between survey rounds. Understanding interviewer effects is important given the wide use of these surveys in policy formulation and monitoring in India.