improve understanding of unplanned pregnancies through better measures of contraceptive use.

Improving Abortion Reporting

Two new techniques seek to improve abortion reporting: (1) allowing respondents to record their abortion histories in private via audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (A-CASI), and (2) paying respondents an incentive so that they will participate in the survey (which apparently has the additional benefit of eliciting more honest answers). NCHS and their data collection contractor, Research Triangle Institute (RTI), tested both techniques in the NSFG pretest in 1993 with encouraging results. Using A-CASI, a subset of NSFG pretest respondents listened via headphones to recorded questions asking whether and when they had had abortions. Women typed their answers directly into the computer; the interviewer did not see their answers. Some NSFG pretest respondents received a $20 or a $40 incentive to participate whereas other respondents received no incentive.

NSFG pretest results showed that both A-CASI and monetary incentives significantly increased abortion reporting. About 14 percent of respondents who received no incentive and no A-CASI interview reported ever having had an abortion, whereas 30 percent of respondents who received both an incentive and an A-CASI interview reported ever having had an abortion (Research Triangle Institute, 1994). According to an independent estimate, 29 percent of women aged 15–35 in 1992 have had one or more abortions (Baldwin et al., forthcoming). The NSFG pretest sample was small (500 respondents) and not nationally representative, so one must view its findings with some caution. Yet the findings raise the hope that through these new techniques abortion reporting in the 1995 NSFG will improve significantly, and perhaps even approach complete reporting.

Clarifying Questions on Unwanted and Mistimed Pregnancies

NSFG staff have redesigned some of the questions used to measure unwanted and mistimed pregnancies. First, the 1995 NSFG has added the following preamble stressing the importance of the wantedness series, in the hope of improving the quality of reporting: "The next few questions are important. They are about how you felt when you became pregnant." In the NSFG pretest, similar preambles improved the quality of reporting on other topics (Research Triangle Institute, 1994).

Second, two questions were added to the wantedness series itself. The goal was to make the questions clearer but to preserve the ability to measure changes in unintended pregnancy over time. The 1995 NSFG asks the standard version

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement