Using the new relationship history calendar method to improve sexual behavior data
Nancy Luke, Brown University
Shelley Clark, McGill University
Eliya M. Zulu, African Institute for Developpment Policy Research (AFIDEP)
Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, young people engage in risky sexual behaviors that lead to poor reproductive health outcomes. The period from adolescence to early adulthood is characterized by the formation, evolution, and dissolution of diverse types of relationships coinciding with complex changes in sexual behaviors and risk. Survey data on sexual behaviors within these diverse partnerships tend to be quite limited and suffer from measurement error. New data collection approaches are needed to improve the scope and quality of sexual behavior data. This paper describes a new survey method, the Relationship History Calendar (RHC), which collects detailed, 10-year retrospective data on the romantic and sexual relationships of young people. The structure of the questions and the interview process of the RHC are designed to minimize recall and social desirability biases. We report results of the feasibility and acceptability of the RHC as well as the quality of sexual behavior data obtained.