Although there are advantages for use of internet based survey research over other formats, there remains in question whether survey mode influences the data measurement equivalency. While most research exploring survey format finds little or no difference in measurement equivalency, the interaction of sensitive topics and survey modality is not fully understood. Additionally, research suggests gender differences in item response on sensitive topics. The present study examined archival data from a college health survey using both online and paper–pencil survey formats. The interaction was evaluated between gender, survey format, and item sensitivity level. Results indicate that question topic sensitivity has a large effect on missing data, and survey format has a moderate effect. These findings have necessary implications for survey design and outcome interpretations.
Originally published in Computers in Human Behavior (http://www.journals.elsevier.com/computers-in-human-behavior/)