To determine the consistency of responses given by acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) hot lines and AIDS information agencies to a standard set of questions related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and to investigate the training of workers in these telephone information agencies.
A two-part questionnaire that addressed issues of HIV transmission and testing (part 1) and sexual behavior, diet, alcohol use, and partner notification (part 2).
Thirty-three AIDS telephone information agencies.
Information specialists at these agencies were contacted on multiple occasions over a 1-year period.
Initially, 48 calls were made to these agencies. Responses were recorded in the words of the information specialists, categorized, and assessed for consistency. Two additional surveys using the same question-naire were also performed, examining the variability of responses within an individual agency and the variability of responses from six agencies, three with and three without formal training of their information specialists.
The initial survey revealed inconsistencies and inaccuracies in responses from AIDS telephone information agencies particularly in the areas of HIV testing, risk factor assessment, safe-sex recommendations, and lifestyle changes for infected persons. The second survey revealed variability in responses from six information specialists within a single agency. The third survey revealed that, overall, agencies with and without formal training of workers were equally inconsistent in their responses.
There are identifiable deficiencies in the quality and consistency of information given by some AIDS telephone information agencies. Training procedures of information specialists at these agencies are variable and may be inadequate.