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Research Article

The (Mis)Reporting of Male Circumcision Status among Men and Women in Zambia and Swaziland: A Randomized Evaluation of Interview Methods

  • Paul C. Hewett mail,

    phewett@popcouncil.org

    Affiliation: HIV-AIDS Program, Population Council, Lusaka, Zambia

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  • Nicole Haberland,

    Affiliation: Poverty, Gender, and Youth Program, Population Council, New York, New York, United States of America

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  • Lou Apicella,

    Affiliation: Center for Biomedical Research, Population Council, New York, New York, United States of America

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  • Barbara S. Mensch

    Affiliation: Poverty, Gender, and Youth Program, Population Council, New York, New York, United States of America

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  • Published: May 22, 2012
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036251

Reader Comments (1)

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Tripartite questions most effective

Posted by DanBollinger on 24 May 2012 at 14:38 GMT

Risser et al. found that 30% of young men are mistaken or unsure of their penile status. Any research that asks for self-report of penile status without some sort of verification should be questioned and perhaps disregarded.

In designing our 2011 study on circumcision, alexithymia, and erectile dysfunction* we knew of Risser's et al. findings so we devised a three-part question. We asked for penile status, had the subject chose which image their flaccid penis most looked like, and then asked if they were restoring their penis. The latter was necessary for the American men we were interviewing since so many are restoring their foreskin; they might have been circumcised, but their penis look intact. Only non-conflicting entries were used for tabulation.

Granted, a physical examination for a circumcision scar (not presence of a foreskin, since some men are born with short or no foreskin and because some circumcisions do not remove all of the foreskin) is preferable, but not always possible.

*Bollinger D, Van Howe, RS. Alexithymia and circumcision trauma: A preliminary investigation. Int J Men’s Health, 2011;10(2):184-95.

No competing interests declared.