What is the best methodology for collecting data on sexual violence?

Redesigning the National Intimate Partner Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) to find the best data collection methodology


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) to collect data on intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking victimization in the U.S. The goal is to use this data to enhance violence prevention efforts.

Since its inception in 2010, the NISVS has used random digit dialing (RDD) telephone sampling methodology. Over time the response rates on RDD surveys have declined due to changes in technology and respondent behavior while victimization rates have changed.

CDC asked Westat to conduct a feasibility test to identify efficient data collection options for the NISVS that minimize nonresponse bias and increase the overall weighted response and cooperation rates achieved via RDD alone.


Westat converted the existing computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI) questionnaire into a self-administered format for paper and web, and conducted 120 cognitive interviews to ensure comparability. 

We then conducted a feasibility test comparing RDD to a multimode address-based sample (ABS) design with web, paper, and CATI, obtaining 5,000+ completed interviews in the test. Both sample frames included a number of experimental conditions to determine the best overall methodology.

We used Westat’s proprietary multimode management (M3) system to manage the complex sample processing and experimental conditions. M3 allows for seamless integration of modes while controlling protocols, including correspondence and survey availability, which on a test of this complexity would not otherwise be possible. M3 also holds all of the survey data and paradata allowing for reporting across modes and conditions.


Westat will use the results of the feasibility test to make recommendations to CDC for the best methodology to meet its goal of minimizing nonresponse bias and increasing the overall cooperation and response rates on the next national NISVS data collection.

This research will lead to collecting more comprehensive data on intimate partner violence and help inform enhanced prevention efforts.


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