Objective: Interactive voice response (IVR) systems allow respondents to report information privately using the telephone keypad and appear to enhance reports of sensitive behaviors like problem drinking. They hold promise for telehealth applications with problem drinkers who will not seek clinical care, but IVR feasibility and data quality using such community samples have not been well studied across lengthy reporting periods in relation to established retrospective measures that are less costly and burdensome. These issues were evaluated using recently resolved, untreated problem drinkers who are targets for telehealth interventions.
Method: Problem drinkers recruited from the community (24 men, 20 women) engaged in IVR self-monitoring (SM) for up to 128 days after initial resolution when the risk of relapse was high. Participants reported daily drinking, money spent on alcohol, and life-event occurrences. An expanded Timeline Followback (TLFB) interview and life-events assessment were completed after the IVR SM interval and covered the same time period.
Results: IVR and TLFB reports showed excellent agreement for summary measures of drinking and money spent on alcohol, but IVR reports were higher on several measures. Most, but not all, individuals showed good agreement for reports of day-to-day drinking practices. Reports of life events were less convergent across reporting methods.
Conclusions: The findings further established the use of IVR SM with problem drinkers, including assessment of behavioral economic variables, and extended its use to community settings, which offer opportunities to reach the majority who do not seek clinical services.