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

Addiction. 2003 Dec;98 Suppl 2:1-12. doi: 10.1046/j.1359-6357.2003.00586.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Biomedical Research
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Self Disclosure*