Time dependent memory decay

Am J Ind Med. 2002 Feb;41(2):98-101. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10035.


Background: To estimate the rate of time dependent memory decay, injury rates from three independent studies were compared.

Methods: The studies asked subjects to recall injuries during the previous 2 months, 12 months, or 10 years.

Results: The annual injury rates obtained were 108/1,000, 66/1,000, and 19/1,000, respectively. These rates are all significantly different from one another at the 0.05 level.

Conclusions: Important methodological and demographic differences between the studies, such as those involving age, injury severity, and seasonality, were ruled out as causes of these differences. Results found in the literature for other studies are compared and contrasted. These data suggest that recall periods of greater than 2 months are likely to significantly underestimate injury rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Agriculture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Bias
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*