Effect of recall period on the reporting of occupational injuries among older workers in the Health and Retirement Study

Am J Ind Med. 1995 Nov;28(5):583-90. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700280503.


Studies of injury morbidity often rely on self-reported survey data. In designing these surveys, researchers must chose between a shorter recall period to minimize recall bias and a longer period to maximize the precision of rate estimates. Using data from the Health and Retirement Study, which employed a recall period of 1 year, we examined the effect of the recall period on rates of occupational injuries among older workers as well as upon rate ratios of these injuries for nine risk factors. We fit a stochastic model to the occupational injury rates as a function of time before the interview and used this model to estimate what the injury rates would have been had we used a 4-week recall period. The adjusted occupational injury rate of 5.9 injuries per 100 workers per year was 36% higher than the rate based on a 1-year recall period. Adjustment for recall period had much less effect on rate ratios, which typically varied by < 10%. Our work suggests that self-reported surveys with longer recall periods may be used to estimate occupational injury rates and also may be useful in studying the associations between occupational injuries and a variety of risk factors.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bias*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retirement
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology