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Marital confusion
  1. A G Gordon1
  1. 132 Love Walk, London SE5 8AD, UK
    1. G Barrett2
    1. 2Health Promotion Research Unit, Department of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK; geraldine.barrett@lshtm.ac.uk

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      As someone divorced, married, separated, and cohabiting and who is constantly frustrated at trying to fill in my status on forms, I welcome the recent attempt to sort out the confusion about marital status among questionnaire compilers.1 However, I think the layout shown in figure 1 is simpler than their final version 3 (for heterosexual women) while providing more information, redundancy (and reliability).

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      Author’s reply

      We are very glad that our paper has stimulated interest in this topic. The point of our paper was that we found current questions on marital/partnership status to be misunderstood and unacceptable to many women; the three versions presented in the paper were intended to illustrate the difficulties we encountered in seeking a solution. Developing questions that are reliable, concise, and valid in lay terms is not an easy task, and our experience underlines the importance of testing new questions for their comprehensibility and acceptability.

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