Angola – Acceptability of Handheld Computers to Collect Self-reported Sexual Behavior Data in Angola

Acceptability of Handheld Computers to Collect Self-reported Sexual Behavior Data in Angola

This study evaluates the cultural acceptability and cost-effectiveness of using handheld computers to collect sexual behavior data, in order to reduce disparities in access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care services in Angola, a country severely impacted by HIV/AIDS. Specifically, this study aimed 1) to assess how comfortable Angolans feel in disclosing sexual behavior in handheld computer surveys compared to paper surveys, and 2) to assess how comfortable Angolan interviewers feel in administering handheld computer surveys vs. paper surveys.

Targeted Risk Group: 

Sexually active adults, 18-45

Intervention model: 

Randomized Control Trial

Research Methods: 

We conducted an experiment in three neighborhoods of Luanda, Angola to assess the impact of the technology on people’s comfort and willingness to disclose sensitive personal information, such as sexual behavior. Participants were asked about their HIV/AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices by local interviewers using either handheld computers or paper surveys. T-tests showed no differences between participants’ self-reported comfort across handheld and paper conditions. However, participants in the handheld condition were more likely to give socially desirable responses to the sexual behavior questions than participants in the paper condition.

International Significance: 

Handheld computers have potential to improve HIV/AIDS programs in healthcare settings in low-income countries, by improving the speed and accuracy of collecting data. However, the acceptability of the technology (i.e., user attitude and reaction) is critical for its successful implementation. Acceptability is particularly critical for HIV/AIDS behavioral data, as it depends on respondents giving accurate information about a highly sensitive topic – sexual behavior. These results suggest that using handheld computers in data collection in Angola may lead to biased reports of HIV/AIDS-related risk behaviors.