Purpose: This study aims to describe patterns of inconsistent reports of sexual intercourse among a sample of South African adolescents.
Methods: Consistency of reported lifetime sexual intercourse was assessed using five semiannual waves of data. Odds ratios related inconsistent reporting to demographic variables and potential indicators of general and risk-behavior-specific reliability problems.
Results: Of the sexually active participants in the sample, nearly 40% reported being virgins after sexual activity had been reported at an earlier assessment. Inconsistent reporting could not be predicted by gender or race or by general indicators of poor reliability (inconsistent reporting of gender and birth year). However individuals with inconsistent reports of sexual intercourse were more likely to be inconsistent reporters of substance use.
Conclusions: These results suggest that researchers need to undertake efforts to deal specifically with inconsistent risk behavior data. These may include modification of data collection procedures and use of statistical methodologies that can account for response inconsistencies.