allows surveyors to select an appropriate assessment location (i.e., a quiet, undisturbed room, as opposed to wherever the respondent happens to have his or her phone). In-person interviews may also facilitate expressions of empathy, honesty, and respect, which then might encourage more complete self-disclosure (Goodstein, 1980). Finally, in-person interviews can be conducted in households that do not have telephones. (However, the advantage of in-person interviews over telephone interviews insofar as telephone availability is concerned may be illusory. For example, according to the 1990 census, only 5 percent of U. S. households did not have telephones.)
By contrast, data indicate that telephone-based interviewing is an efficient method for collecting information from large representative samples of respondents at a relatively low cost with insignificant response bias in detection of critical variables of interest when compared to in-person interview approaches (Weeks et al., 1983; Bradburn, 1984). These issues have been examined specifically in terms of detection of rates of victimization using in-person versus telephone interview methods (Catlin and Murray, 1979). Based on objective police report data, no differences in rates of detection of victimization were observed, supporting both the reliability and validity of the telephone method. One study (Paulsen et al., 1988) compared telephone and in-person assessment of DSM-III Axis I disorders, including anxiety disorders, affective disorders, alcoholism, and no mental disorder using a structured diagnostic interview. Kappa ranging from 0.69 to 0.84 was obtained, even with a delay between in-person and telephone methods of 12 to 19 months.
There are several additional advantages to telephone assessment of victimization and psychopathology, particularly when considering interviewing older adult respondents. Many older adults indicate that they are hesitant to allow a stranger into their home for a variety of reasons (e.g., safety, feeling compelled to clean the house for the interviewer). The telephone format may also be perceived as relatively more anonymous and less intimidating than in-person disclosures of personal victimization, particularly when perpetrators are family members. Indeed, this anonymity may facilitate disclosure of embarrassing or potentially problematic material. Moreover, this anonymity may reduce the risk of negative outcomes on disclosure of abuse events. That is, if an interview is conducted in person, the interviewer is present in the house and clearly noticed by the abuser. The abuser may even overhear the interview questions and be aware of the older adult’s responses. This is not a problem during telephone-based interviews.
Telephone-based interviewing also has the advantage of improving access to participants from across the socioeconomic status range. Thus, the very rich, rich, middle class, lower class, and poor are equally approachable, if they have a telephone. It is unlikely that the upper and lower ends