Telephone Survey Respondents' Reactions to Questions Regarding Interpersonal Violence

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Concerns have been raised regarding the appropriateness of asking about violence victimization in telephone interviews and whether asking such questions increases respondents' distress or risk for harm. However, no large-scale studies have evaluated the impact of asking such questions during a telephone interview. This study explored respondents' reactions to questions regarding violence in two large recently completed telephone surveys. After respondents were asked about violence, they were asked if they thought surveys should ask such questions and whether they felt upset or afraid because of the questions. In both surveys, the majority of respondents (regardless of their victimization history) were willing to answer questions about violence and were not upset or afraid because of the questions. More than 92% of respondents thought such questions should be asked. These results challenge commonly held beliefs and assumptions and provide some assurance to those concerned with the ethical collection of data on violent victimization.

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