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Abstract

This article explores the potential use of telephone surveys for the conduct of human service needs assessments. After reviewing relevant literature bearing on the subject of telephone surveys, a theoretical telephone survey human service needs assessment of Maricopa County, Arizona is compared with an actual human service needs assessment using the traditional personal survey approach. The results suggest that the two approaches produce similar findings at the aggregate data, or community, level but that the underrepresentation of certain target groups of interest to human service administrators (e.g. low-income and ethnic minorities) may cause disaggregation problems. Methodological techniques to deal with the underrepresentation of these target groups in telephone survey human service needs assessments are discussed. The article concludes by suggesting that the successful utilization of a telephone survey approach to human service needs assessment may ultimately turn more on political rather than methodological concerns.

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