Telephone contact as a method for gathering data on everyday behavior of noninstitutionalized adults



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Considerable work has been done on techniques for monitoring behavior. Although a self-recording technique has been shown to be reliable over many occasions, it is not practical for monitoring in the community environment over long periods of time. The present study develops and tests two telephone interview procedures against a self-recording diary technique. Eleven spinal cord injured persons and eleven nondisabled persons varying in age, sex, marital status, school and job responsibilities, reported daily activity data, including other persons involved and settings, over a 6 week period using the various collection methods. Rehabilitation professionals developed a set of activity codes based on the actual reported data. Findings from multi-trait/multi-method matrices demonstrated convergent and discriminant validity. Analyses of variance and correlations on derived frequency measures showed a high level of agreement between data collection methods, and application of Tilton's overlap provided evidence of no difference between the diary and telephone interview methods. Elapsed time was calculated and summed for each occurrence of each of the activity, person and location codes separately for every subject. This was done for each of the data collection procedures. Comparisons between diary and evening interview as well as comparisons between diary and midday+evening interview showed high correlations for these elapsed time data. Overlap analyses confirmed that there were no differences between the diary and interview methods. In summary, the telephone interview approach to gathering community behavioral data agrees strongly with a previously tested self-recording diary approach. The telephone interview has the important advantage of relieving the subject of responsibility for his own data collection, thus enabling a researcher to gather consistent behavioral data from subjects over long periods of time. Finally, the telephone interview method is easy and inexpensive to use, and has shown good generalizability across types of persons and settings.