The NICHD Women's Contraceptive and Reproductive Experiences Study: methods and operational results

Ann Epidemiol. 2002 May;12(4):213-21. doi: 10.1016/s1047-2797(01)00274-5.


Purpose: This paper presents methods and operational results of a population-based case-control study examining the effects of oral contraceptive use on breast cancer risk among white and black women aged 35-64 years in five U.S. locations.

Methods: Cases were women newly diagnosed with breast cancer during July 1994 through April 1998. Controls were identified through random digit dialing (RDD) using unclustered sampling with automated elimination of nonworking numbers. Sampling was density-based, with oversampling of black women. In-person interviews were conducted from August 1994 through December 1998. Blood samples were obtained from subsets of cases and controls, and tissue samples were obtained from subsets of cases. A computerized system tracked subjects through study activities. Special attention was devoted to minimizing exposure misclassification, because any exposure-disease associations were expected to be small.

Results: An estimated 82% of households were screened successfully through RDD. Interviews were completed for 4575 cases (2953 whites; 1622 blacks) and 4682 controls (3021 whites; 1661 blacks). Interview response rates for cases and controls were 76.5% and 78.6%, respectively, with lower rates for black women and older women.

Conclusions: The methodologic details of this large collaboration may assist researchers conducting similar investigations.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blacks
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contraception / methods*
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Reproductive Medicine / methods*
  • Risk
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal