The reliability of self-reported alcohol consumption in the remote past

Epidemiology. 1992 Nov;3(6):535-9. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199211000-00014.


We examined the reliability of self-reported alcohol consumption in past age periods of women's lives. As part of a case-control study of breast cancer conducted in Massachusetts and Wisconsin in 1988-1991, the same questionnaire was administered for a second time to 211 controls (mean age = 54 years) after an interval of 6-12 months. The Spearman correlation coefficients between the average number of grams of alcohol consumed daily reported in the two interviews, by age period of consumption, were: 16-19 years, r = 0.81; 20-29 years, r = 0.84; 30-39 years, r = 0.75; and for recent consumption, r = 0.77. Self-reported alcohol consumption throughout adult life was reported with precision sufficient to make the ranking of subjects' intake consistent between interviews.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology