Collecting Sensitive Information and Encouraging Reluctant Respondents

Data Collection Technical Assistance Brief, Number 2
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Oct 31, 2016
Angela Valdovinos D'Angelo, Jacqueline Crowley, Lauren Maul, and Debra Strong

In most studies of vulnerable or at-risk populations, the research team must collect sensitive information about participants to learn whether a program or intervention is working. These sensitive topics can sometimes raise concerns among team members. How can they collect these data while minimizing the privacy concerns of the participants and maximizing completion of surveys, or assessments?

This brief covers two common concerns among program and evaluation staff: collecting sensitive information from vulnerable populations and encouraging reluctant respondents to provide data. Staff can use the guidance in this brief to help plan their data collections and consult the references for further reading.