Interviews are used to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. They are particularly important in qualitative studies, where they are the principal form of data collection. Interview techniques used in qualitative data collection vary from unstructured interviews or narratives to open-ended, semistructured interviews. Both unstructured and semistructured interviews may be distinguished from formal or structured interviews, in which a fixed list of questions is used and the emphasis is on collecting data in a standardized manner. Structured interviews are used to collect data for many surveys, including the Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System and the National Health Interview System; however, because the data collection process is much more straightforward in structured interviews, this entry concentrates on techniques used in unstructured and semistructured interviews.

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