How interviewers affect responses to sensitive questions on the justification for wife beating and refusal to have conjugal sex, and domestic violence in India

Abhishek Singh, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Kaushalendra Kumar, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Fred Arnold, ICF International

There is relatively little research on interviewer effects on responses to questions on women justifying a woman’s refusal to have sex with her husband, women justifying wife beating, women’s experience of physical and sexual violence, and whether the woman’s father ever beat her mother. The National Family Health Surveys (NFHS) are the only source of these data in India that are routinely used by policymakers for formulating evidence-based policies and programmes. This study examines interviewer effects on these indicators that were collected in two large-scale NFHS surveys in India (2005-06 and 2015-16). We use cross-classified random intercept multilevel logit models to examine interviewer effects. In both surveys, we find large interviewer effects on questions about the justification of a woman refusing to have sex with her husband and the justification of wife beating. The interviewer effects were much larger in the 2015-16 survey, which had a sample size of 6,99,686 women age 15-49, than in the 2005-06 survey, which had a sample size of 1,24,385 women age 15-49. Such large interviewer effects should be considered when interpreting data on these topics. Understanding interviewer effects is important given the wide use of these surveys in policy formulation and monitoring in India.

Keywords: Demographic and social surveys, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Multi-level modeling

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 147. Measurement Issues in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research