Reliability of the Marlowe-Crowne social desirability scale in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and UgandaReport as inadecuate

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BMC Medical Research Methodology

, 11:162

First Online: 02 December 2011Received: 08 April 2011Accepted: 02 December 2011


BackgroundStudies of HIV often use self-reported surveys to measure sexual knowledge, attitudes, and practices. However, the self-reported data are vulnerable to social desirability SD, a propensity of individuals to report favorable responses. The Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale MC-SDS was developed as a measure of the effect of social desirability, but it has not been adapted for or used in Africa. This study aimed to apply the MC-SDS nested in an HIV behavioral intervention program and to measure its reliability in four African countries.

MethodsThe MC-SDS was adapted based on consultations with local stakeholders and pilot tested in Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, and Uganda. Trained interviewers administered the modified 28-item MC-SDS survey to 455 men and women ages 15-24 years. The scores for the social desirability scales were calculated for all participants. An analysis of the internal consistency of responses was conducted using the Cronbach-s α coefficient. Acceptable internal consistency was defined as an α coefficient of ≥ 0.70.

ResultsMean social desirability scores ranged from a low of 15.7 in Kenya to a high of 20.6 in Mozambique. The mean score was 17.5 for Uganda and 20.6 for Mozambique. The Cronbach-s α coefficients were 0.63 in Kenya, 0.66 in Mozambique, 0.70 in Uganda, and 0.80 in Ethiopia.

ConclusionsThe MC-SDS can be effectively adapted and implemented in sub-Saharan Africa. The reliability of responses in these settings suggest that the MC-SDS could be a useful tool for capturing potential SD in surveys of HIV related risk behaviors.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1471-2288-11-162 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Alexander Vu - Nhan Tran - Kiemanh Pham - Saifuddin Ahmed


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