Sexual Behaviour in AIDS-Related Research: Reliability and Validity of Recall and Diary Measures

Mary Louise McLaws, David A. Cooper, Brian Oldenburg, Michael W. Ross

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81 Scopus citations


In order to assess the reliability and validity of two data collection instruments for measuring sexual practices in homosexual men, we administered a recall data collection instrument to 30 sexually active men, and a diary instrument to a subset of 19 participants. Each instrument covered a period of one month. For the recall instrument, the correlation coefficients between the test-retest showed a good level of reliability for a number of infrequent sexual practices but was poor for frequent sexual practices. Correlation coefficients were calculated for sexual practices recorded in the first two and the second two weeks for both the recall and the diary. Generally, the level of agreement between the first and second two weeks for sexual practice data recorded in the diary was lower than the recall questionnaire. While the reliability of the recall method was found to be limited to certain sexual practices, it was concluded to be the most reliable and efficient method presently available for the collection of important high-risk AIDS-related sexual activities for a one-month period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Sex Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • homosexuality
  • sexual assessment
  • sexual behavior


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