The validity of self-reports of alcohol consumption: state of the science and challenges for research

Authors


  • This paper is based in part on a paper presented at the NIAAA technical workshop, ‘Self-Report and Biochemical Markers of Alcohol Consumption’, Bethesda, MD, 3 December 2002.

Frances K. Del Boca
Department of Psychology
University of South Florida
Florida
USA
E-mail: fdelboca@chuma1.cas.usf.edu

ABSTRACT

Aims  To review three topics pertaining to the validity of alcohol self-reports: factors that influence response accuracy; the relative merits of different self-report approaches; and the utility of using alternative measures to confirm verbal reports.

Findings  Response behavior is influenced by the interaction of social context factors, respondent characteristics, and task attributes. Although research has advanced our knowledge about self-report methods, many questions remain unanswered. In particular, there is a need to investigate how task demands interact with different patterns of drinking behavior to affect response accuracy. There is also a continuing need to use multiple data sources to examine the extent of self-report response bias, and to determine whether it varies as a function of respondent characteristics or assessment timing.

Conclusion  Self-report methods offer a reliable and valid approach to measuring alcohol consumption. The accuracy of such methods, however, can be improved by research directed at understanding the processes involved in response behavior.

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