Table Of Contents
2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
Field Interviewer Manual
Review of Chapter 1


You have been selected as a Field Interviewer (FI) for the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The project staff welcomes you to the team for this important study and hopes you will find your responsibilities challenging, interesting, and enjoyable. We at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) look forward to working with you and appreciate the commitment and skill you bring to the project.

1.1 Research Triangle Institute (RTI)

RTI is a not-for-profit contract research organization, dedicated to conducting innovative, multidisciplinary research that improves the human condition. RTI is active in health and medicine, environmental protection, technology commercialization, education, and decision support systems. Universities in North Carolina founded RTI in 1958 as the first scientific organization in and centerpiece of the Research Triangle Park, a science park located between the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Institute research is performed both in the United States and abroad under contract with federal, state, and local governments; public service agencies; and private-sector clients. RTI occupies over 625,000 square feet of laboratory and office facilities and employs a worldwide, full-time staff of over 1,800 individuals. Current research volume is approximately $230 million annually.

1.2 Project Organization

You are one of approximately 1,000 Field Interviewers conducting interviews for the NHSDA. The field staff include the following positions:

Other field staff include Traveling Field Interviewers (TFIs), Super FSs, and a variety of assistant positions at all supervisory levels. All FIs and FSs are employees of Headway Corporate Staffing Services, a subcontractor of RTI. The RSs are survey managers with RTI.

The chart in Exhibit 1.1 illustrates the data collection management structure for the project as of January 2001. There are two ways to interpret this chart: as presented, the flow from director to interviewer illustrates the necessary communication and support for the overall direction of the project. When viewed from interviewer to director, we see the flow of actual information from the respondents, which is the all-important data to be gathered. You, as an interviewer, are the direct and vital link in the flow of information. Please know that your efforts are critical and very much appreciated!

Exhibit 1.1 NHSDA Organizational Chart

1.3 Study Background

1.3.1 Brief History of NHSDA

The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse is currently an annual nationwide survey funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the United States Public Health Service, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. These goals have been established for the NHSDA:

First conducted in 1971, the NHSDA has become the nation's leading source of information on substance abuse patterns and behaviors. Early on, the study was conducted at various intervals, settling into a pattern of about every two years. The demand for current, accurate information rose sharply by the early 1990s, prompting SAMHSA to conduct the survey annually starting in 1990. In 1992, the design shifted to a quarterly design where one fourth of the cases for the year are contacted and interviewed in each calendar quarter. Beginning in 1999, the sample design was expanded to allow for the reporting of drug use estimates for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Starting with the 1988 survey, the NHSDA has been conducted by Research Triangle Institute. With each iteration, RTI has revised or implemented new procedures designed to simplify and enhance the data collection process while maintaining the highest level of data quality. Through 1998, the NHSDA was conducted entirely with paper documents, referred to as paper and pencil interviewing (PAPI). With PAPI, the interviewer asked questions and recorded answers in a paper questionnaire, while the answers to more sensitive questions were recorded by the respondent on individual answer sheets. With the development of powerful, yet lightweight, laptop and handheld computers, RTI converted the entire NHSDA to an electronic data collection process.

This conversion occurred over several years, with RTI conducting several field studies to fully test the procedures and equipment. By analyzing data from these tests and listening to suggestions from the field staff involved, the computer programmers and management staff were able to further enhance and refine the computer programs and procedures prior to the full-scale implementation for the 1999 NHSDA. To assist RTI and SAMHSA in analyzing the effects of converting to computer-assisted interviewing (CAI), during 1999 field staff continued to conduct about 20% of all completed interviews using PAPI.

1.3.2 Current Design for NHSDA

The entire NHSDA data collection process is now conducted electronically. All screenings-which determine whom, if anyone, to interview in the household-are completed using a small handheld computer called an Apple Newton MessagePad 2100. Selected respondents are interviewed using CAI on a Gateway laptop computer. Portions of the interview are conducted via computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) where the interviewer asks the questions and records the answers in the computer. The sensitive questions are completed using audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI), where the respondents listen to the questions and enter their own responses. With ACASI, even you, the interviewer, won't know the responses to these personal questions. Studies repeatedly show that maximizing privacy helps encourage honest, accurate answers and produces high quality data.

For this year's NHSDA, the national sample is designed to yield about 17,500 completed interviews per quarter, for a total of about 70,000 interviews. Data collection continues to take place in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

1.3.3 Validity Study

While NHSDA procedures encourage honesty and recall accuracy, it is still a self-reporting survey. Since the accuracy of the results depends on the truthfulness and memory of respondents, the extent of under- or over-reporting of drug use is not known. This year, for the second year, about 200 selected FIs will continue to perform additional tasks for a small number of their selected interviews for the Validity Study. Each of these FIs conducts about two or three Validity Study interviews each quarter, or about ten per year for a total of about 2,000 Validity Study interviews during the year.

For the Validity Study, recent drug use is validated by testing samples of each respondent's hair and urine. Urine is the most common biological specimen collected and tested for drug use. However, most drugs are eliminated from the body within 72 hours of use, so it isonly reliable as a test for recent drug use. While more difficult to obtain, hair samples can be tested for drug use during the last six months. Interviewers chosen for the Validity Study receive additional training on informed consent procedures as well as the actual specimen collection and processing procedures.

The Validity Study component of the NHSDA will contribute valuable knowledge about the authenticity of self-reported data on drug use.

1.4 Data Collection Schedule

With the project's quarterly design, separate groups of households are selected and assigned to a specific quarter of the calendar year. This design requires that all screening and interviewing (S/I) activities associated with the selected households be completed by the end of each quarter. IT IS CRITICAL THAT THESE QUARTERLY DEADLINES BE MET. There is no room for extension of the deadlines at the end of quarterly data collection periods. The following are key dates in the quarterly data collection project schedule:

Conduct Screening and Interviewing

Start Date

Completion Goal

Quarter 1

    January 6

    February 28

Quarter 2

    April 1

    May 31

Quarter 3

    July 1

    August 31

Quarter 4

    October 1

    November 30

Clean-Up and Reporting

Start Date

Final Date

Quarter 1

    March 1

    March 31

Quarter 2

    June 1

    June 30

Quarter 3

    September 1

    September 30

Quarter 4

    December 1

    December 31

Notice that you are to complete most cases within the first eight to nine weeks of each quarter, then use the last few weeks of the quarter for reviewing, verifying, and completing miscellaneous cases. The majority of S/I should be completed prior to these clean-up dates, leaving only a minimum number of cases to be resolved. In some areas, it is possible that only a few FIs will be involved in these clean-up phases. This may result in a cycle where some FIs will work for two months and then have a month with little or no work. It is also possible, however, that completing your assignments early will allow you to assist during the clean-up period in your area or even in other areas if you are interested and available to travel. Exhibit 1.2, the Quarterly Data Collection Schedule, provides a more detailed timetable of the quarterly data collection periods for this study. Please review this schedule CAREFULLY.

Exhibit 1.2 Quarterly Data Collection Schedule

At the conclusion of each data collection quarter, data summaries can be produced for the government based on that quarter's processed data. Therefore, it is essential that segment work be completed within the assigned quarter; completed screenings and interviews received after the end of the quarter cannot be used. The late data are discarded, and you do not receive "credit" for these cases. These quarterly deadlines can be achieved with careful planning, diligent work, and follow through with your commitment to the project. Your FS is available to assist you with your work plan, modifying it as necessary as the quarter evolves.

1.5 Project Abbreviations and Terminology

Throughout this manual, and in other project materials, abbreviations are used. As a general aid for you, a list of these abbreviations is provided in Exhibit 1.3. Some of the abbreviations and terms used in this manual have exact meanings or refer to specific project materials. These terms are briefly explained in Exhibit 1.4, in alphabetical order. Details regarding the use of the terms are located throughout the manual. Be familiar with these terms and use them consistently in your communications with your fellow interviewers and your supervisor.

Exhibit 1.3 List of Abbreviations

ACASI        Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing
ADDED DU        Added Dwelling Unit
CAI        Computer-Assisted Interviewing
CAPI        Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing
Case ID        Case Identification Number
C/L        Counting/Listing
DHHS        U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
DU        Dwelling Unit
E-mail        Electronic Mail
ePTE        Electronic Production, Time, and Expense Report
FI        Field Interviewer
FS        Field Supervisor
GQU        Group Quarters Unit
HH        Household
HU        Housing Unit
ID        Identification
INS        Immigration and Naturalization Services
NHSDA        National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
PAPI        Paper and Pencil Interviewing
PHS        Public Health Service
PT&E        Production, Time, and Expense Report
Q&A        Question and Answer Brochure
QuestID        Questionnaire ID
R or ®        Respondent
RD        Regional Director
ROC        Record of Calls
RS        Regional Supervisor
SAMHSA        Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
SAMS        Survey Automated Mapping System
S/I        Screening/Interviewing
SDU        Sample Dwelling Unit
SR        Screening Respondent
TFI        Traveling Field Interviewer
VerifID        Verification ID

Exhibit 1.4 Definitions of Project Terminology

Added DU—a DU discovered in connection with an SDU which was not included on the original List of Dwelling Units in a segment, but should have been.

Audio Computer-Assisted Self-Interviewing (ACASI)—a type of computer-assisted interviewing used to collect information from selected respondents for questions of a sensitive or personal nature. Respondents listen through headphones as the questions are read from computer audio files and enter the answers themselves directly into the computer.

CAI Manager—computer software program developed by RTI programmers for management of questionnaire data on the laptop computer.

Case Identification (Case ID)—a ten-character code that starts with the state abbreviation and uniquely identifies a dwelling unit selected for the study.

Case Management—a broad term used to describe the process of organizing, keeping track of and completing your work in a timely fashion.

Computer-Assisted Interviewing (CAI)—a generic term used to indicate that a computer is used during the interview. It includes CAPI and ACASI (see definitions).

Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI)—using a computer, the FI reads the questions displayed on the computer screen to the respondent, then enters the response directly into the computer.

Consent—agreement to participate in a research study given by an adult or by a parent or guardian for his/her child. Giving consent indicates that he/she understands the meaning of, and has agreed to participate in, the study. The consent process used in any research project must be approved by a Human Subject's Committee or Institutional Review Board. When interviewing a minor, you must have parental consent unless the youth is an emancipated minor (see definition).

Counting and Listing (C/L)—the process of creating a list of all the dwelling units contained within a segment (a specified land area). This phase has already been completed.

Dwelling Unit—a place where a person or persons could reside. This general term refers to both housing units and group quarters units (see definitions).

E-Mail—through the one-way electronic messaging program on the Gateway, FIs can receive e-mail messages from supervisors and project management.

ePT&E—a computerized method to track interviewer production, time and expenses. FIs enter their information into the ePTE system on the Gateway. (See PT&E definition).

Emancipated Minor—a person under the age of 18 who is living on his/her own; that is, not as a dependent of parents or a guardian.

FormLogic—the software program used by RTI programmers to develop the Newton screening program.

Gateway (Gateway Solo 5100/5150 Multimedia Notebook)—a laptop computer used for administering NHSDA interviews and collecting data.

Group Quarters Unit—generally, any single living unit within a group quarters structure in which ten or more unrelated persons reside.

Householder—the person or one of the persons in whose name the home is owned or rented. This individual must reside in the SDU for most of the 3-month data collection period.

Housing Unit—a group of rooms or a single room occupied, or intended for occupancy, as separate living quarters.

Lead Letter—an introductory letter you send to each sample dwelling unit that has a mailing address explaining that a Field Interviewer will contact the residents. A very brief overview of the study is included in the letter.

Newton (Apple Newton MessagePad 2100)—a handheld computer used to conduct screenings and for case management (see definitions).

Nonrespondent—a person who is eligible and selected for the study but who chooses not to participate.

Partition—within each quarter, the selected DUs are assigned in batches or partitions.

Production, Time and Expense (PT&E)—how FIs maintain an accurate record of daily production, time and expenses while working on this study. Payment for hours worked and reimbursement of expenses are based on the documentation submitted, either on the paper form or through the ePTE system.

Questionnaire ID (QuestID)—the code that links the interview data to the screening/sample information. The code is displayed on the Newton and entered into the Gateway in order to begin an interview.

Record of Calls (ROC)—a term referring to the Newton program that allows FIs to record details about each and every visit to an SDU. Details include the date and time, the result code, the mode of contact, and any important comments.

Respondent—a person who is eligible and selected for the study, and who agrees to participate.

Result Codes—two-digit codes used to indicate the current status of each case. These codes are recorded in the Record of Calls in the Newton, sent automatically to RTI with each transmission, and are reviewed with your FS. When compiled into regular reports, these codes provide important information to project managers and the client on the progress of data collection.

Sample Dwelling Unit (SDU)—a dwelling unit that has been randomly chosen for inclusion in the NHSDA.

Sampling Frame—the source of all listed units from which SDUs are selected. For NHSDA, we use an area frame where all dwelling units within a specified land area (segment) are listed and then certain units from that list are randomly chosen (sampled) to be contacted about the study.

SAMS— Survey Automated Mapping System is the program used by RTI statisticians and mapping experts to produce the sets of maps provided to locate each SDU.

Screening—the process of determining whether an SDU contains any eligible persons and if any of those eligible are selected to be interviewed.

Screening Respondent (SR) —the person who answers the screening questions.

Segment—a relatively small, well-defined area of land.

Transient —Shelters and missions provide lodging for transient persons who have no other permanent place of residence. Transient residents of a selected shelter are eligible for the NHSDA. Overnight hotels, motels, or even hospitals provide temporary shelter for guests who have other homes. These transient structures are not included in NHSDA.

Transmit—a process where information and data are sent from one computer to another over telephone lines.

Verification—a process in which the quality and accuracy of all NHSDA field work is monitored by the project managers and staff. This process takes place during screening and interviewing and ensures that the data being collected are of the highest possible quality.

VerifID —the code displayed in the upper-right corner of the Verification form. This number is entered into the Gateway at the end of the interview.

1.6 Use of Manual

This procedural manual provides a detailed description of the tasks you will be required to complete for all aspects of the NHSDA. Additionally, a separate FI Computer Manual describes the actual computers, their use, and proper care. If you are selected to work on the Validity Study, an additional manual provides the necessary information for the Validity Study procedures.

This manual is an excellent reference source. When searching for information, think about where the topic fits in the flow of work. Consult the detailed Table of Contents and the List of Exhibits. Using the key words shown there will help you narrow down your search. Also included for your use is an index which lists broad topics that are discussed in several chapters.

Adherence to prescribed procedures and duties is extremely important to the success of the study. The manual, including all supplements, should be carefully studied before you attend training, as you prepare for fieldwork, and throughout data collection each quarter.

You may, however, have questions or encounter field situations for which you do not find an answer in this manual. When in doubt about any field situation, contact your FS. If he/she is unavailable and you need an answer immediately, contact the appropriate RS. Names and contact information will be provided at training. Telephone numbers for all Regional Supervisors and other project management staff are listed in Exhibit 1.5.

Exhibit 1.5 Project Staff Information


REVIEW OF Chapter 1

Introduction to the Study

To assist your learning process, read the following summary of key points in this chapter. Following the summary are several questions to ask yourself. These questions will help you identify those areas you understand, and pinpoint the areas where you would benefit from re-reading a particular section.



1. What is the purpose of this study?

2. What is RTI?

3. What is the last day that Quarter 2 interviews can be completed?

4. When should the bulk of your field work be finished in Quarter 1?

5. Define the following terms:








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This page was last updated on December 29, 2008.