An Open Access article published in the Health Behavior and Policy Review Journal.
The full article is available as a PDF download.


Julie M. Maier, PhD
Kristen N. Jozkowski, PhD
María S. Montenegro, PhD
Malachi Willis, PhD
Ronna C. Turner, PhD
Brandon L. Crawford, PhD
Wen-Juo Lo, PhD


Salient belief elicitations (SBEs) measure beliefs toward a health behavior through open-ended questions, with the purpose of developing close-ended survey questions. Auxiliary verbs used in SBE questions often differ (eg, What are the top 3 reasons you would/should decide to have an abortion?). We tested how 2 auxiliary verbs function in a SBE assessing abortion in English and Spanish: would/decidíra and should/debería.


We administered a SBE survey online (N = 175) and in-person (N = 72); in-person participants also participated in cognitive interviews to assess question interpretation. Participants were assigned to survey versions that included identical SBE questions aside from auxiliary verbs— would/decidíra versus should/debería. Data analysis included: (1) content analysis of survey responses to assess differences in responses by version and (2) thematic analysis of interview data focused on interpretations of would/decidíra and should/debería.


Would/decidíra surveys generated more response categories. Similarly, cognitive interview findings suggest participants conceptualized would/decidíra as allowing for more options, while should/debería was thought to include only the most significant reasons/circumstances for abortion, potentially restricting participants’ responses.


These findings have important measurement implications for researchers administering SBEs.

Source: Health Behavior and Policy Review, Volume 8, Number 4, July 2021, pp. 374-393(20)
Publisher: Paris Scholar Publishing Ltd.