Some lessons from the attempt to retrieve early KAP and fertility surveys.
One of the notable features of population studies in the past 35 years has been the increasing reliance on sample surveys as the primary source of demographic data. Past surveys of knowledge, attitudes, and practice of contraception in developing countries are important resources. These early KAP and fertility surveys, conducted 10 or more years ago, provide benchmarks for the study of how group differentials in behavior and attitudes evolve with time. Together with recent surveys, they help to monitor the pace and nature of the transition from 1 demographic regime to another within societies. Attempts to retrieve the earlier data produced constructive lessons and recommendations on how to safeguard current and future surveys and promote their use. 3 recommendations emerge that will help safeguard current and future surveys and promote their use. 1) Develop standards of documentation and maintenance, including how long questionnaires are to be retained, now much of the detail of sampling design should be saved, what constitutes an adequate description of interviewer characteristics and instruction. 2) Arrange for public access and the mechanisms to promote it. Funds should be budgeted for this purpose from the outset. Surveys that are still not generally available after a reasonable number of years lose much of their value and deprive the demographic community of a valuable resource. 3) Create structures to preserve and disseminate KAP and fertility surveys. The need for this is greatest for surveys not associated with large international programs. In all cases arrangements for longterm preservation must be made. Tables are included which describe 3rd world countries in which KAP or fertility surveys were conducted before 1981, and an inventory of pairs of surveys for potential use in conparative and over-time analysis.