Agreement between self-report and archival public service utilization data among chronically homeless individuals with severe alcohol problems



Public service utilization data are often used as key outcomes in studies on homelessness. Although self-report data on these outcomes are accessible and cost-effective, various factors may affect retrospective recall in homeless populations. It is therefore necessary to establish validity of self-report to ensure the integrity of studies involving such populations. Participants (N=134) were chronically homeless individuals with severe alcohol problems who participated in a housing first effectiveness trial (Larimer et al., 2009). The authors compared 30-day and 3-year retrospective self-report data on sobering center, jail, and hospital use with archival records corresponding to the same timeframes. Analyses indicated good category-specific agreement for 30-day self-report and archival data on sobering center (82%; κ=.58) and jail use (89%; κ=.60). Hospital use, however, was self-reported significantly more frequently than indicated by archival data (78%; κ=.30). Three-year data showed inadequate agreement across all three variables. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.