Paper-and-pencil versus computerized administration mode: Comparison of data quality and risk behavior prevalence estimates in the European school Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD)

Autoři: Emanuela Colasante aff001;  Elisa Benedetti aff001;  Loredana Fortunato aff001;  Marco Scalese aff001;  Roberta Potente aff001;  Arianna Cutilli aff001;  Sabrina Molinaro aff001
Působiště autorů: National Research Council of Italy, Institute of Clinical Physiology, Epidemiology and Health Research Lab, Pisa, Italy aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225140



The aim of this experimental study was to investigate whether paper-and-pencil and computerized surveys administered in the school setting yield equivalent data quality indicators and risk behavior prevalence estimates.


Data were drawn from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD®) carried out in Italy to monitor drug, alcohol, tobacco use and other risk-behaviors among Italian high school students aged 15–19 years.

A sub-sample of schools was recruited for the study (1673 pupils). For each school, two entire randomly selected courses (from the first to the fifth grade) participated and were assigned randomly to the self-administered paper-and-pencil (N = 811) or computerized survey (N = 862). Differences in data quality were assessed using the following indicators: questionnaire completeness (missing gender and/or 50% of missing answers) and internal consistency (repetitive extreme response patterns). Separate logistic regression models were used to estimate the mode effect on the reporting of each risk behavior, controlling for gender and age. Finally, the prevalence estimates of the experimental study were compared to the results of the national ESPAD® study.


The computerized administration mode produced a higher proportion of invalid questionnaires, but the prevalence estimates generated from responses to the paper-and-pencil and computerized surveys were generally equivalent. Nevertheless, comparing these results with those of the national ESPAD® study, some differences in the prevalence rates were found.


The findings suggest that in a proctored school setting, the computerized survey mode yields almost the same results as the paper-and-pencil mode. However, because of the reliance on existing informatics facilities until when all schools in the country will be sufficiently equipped for the computerized data collection, they should be given the opportunity to choose between paper-and-pencil and computerized survey modes, in order to avoid a possible selection bias.

Klíčová slova:

Alcohol consumption – Behavior – Drug administration – Europe – Italian people – Questionnaires – Schools – Surveys


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