The Validity of Self-Reports of Alcohol Consumption: State of the Science and Challenges for Research

Department of Psychology, University of South Florida, Florida, USA.
Addiction (Impact Factor: 4.74). 01/2004; 98 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):1-12. DOI: 10.1046/j.1359-6357.2003.00586.x
Source: PubMed


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.
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.
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.

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    • "Another limitation is that only self-report measures will be used, which introduces potential biases inherent in self-report questionnaires, such as social desirability. However, previous studies suggest that self-assessed methods in alcohol research tend to be reliable and valid[58,59]. However, we acknowledge that the validity of the outcome measures used here has not explicitly been tested for online settings. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Problem drinking is an important global health concern, causing premature mortality and morbidity. Only few problem drinkers seek professional care, unfortunately, because of multiple barriers such as insufficient change motivation, fear of stigmatization or limited access to care. The aim of this study will be to examine the effectiveness of a novel Internet intervention termed Vorvida, which was developed based on established cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques with the aim of reducing problematic alcohol consumption. Methods/Design A two-arm randomized control trial (RCT) will be conducted to determine whether using Vorvida results in greater reductions in self-reported problem drinking, compared with a care-as-usual/waitlist (CAU/WL) control group. There will be a baseline assessment (t0) and follow-up assessments after three (t1) and six months (t2). Inclusion criteria will be: minimum age of 18, an average consumption of alcohol >24/12 g (men/women) per day and an AUDIT-C score ≥ 3, as well as informed consent. Participants will be randomly assigned to the intervention or control condition at a ratio of 1:1. Recruitment, informed consent, randomization and assessment will be Internet-based. Primary outcome will be change in self-reported alcohol consumption between t0 and t1. Secondary outcomes will be self-reported drinking behavior, expectancies of effects of alcohol use, abstinence and relapse tendencies, self-efficacy and motivation to change. Discussion This study is expected to establish the extent to which a novel Internet intervention could contribute to reducing problem drinking among adults with mild to severe alcohol use disorders who may or may not seek or access a traditional treatments. Potentially, this program could be an effective and efficient tool to help reduce problem drinking on a population level because a great number of users can be reached simultaneously without adding burden to treating clinicians. Trial registration German Clinical Trial Registration (DRKS): DRKS00006104. Registered 14 April 2014.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016 · BMC Psychiatry
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    • "Second, all alcohol-related outcomes were measured through self-report; no alternative assessments were used. Nonetheless, alcohol research has suggested that self-report data can provide reliable and valid estimates of drinking behaviors if issues such as confidentiality have been carefully addressed (Del Boca & Darkes, 2003;Del Boca & Noll, 2000). Third, data were collected from a single college in China and convenience sampling was used to recruit participants; therefore, generalization of the findings is limited. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: College drinking has become a significant health issue in China; the current study addressed the gap that no prior research has investigated drinking motives among Chinese undergraduate students. Objectives: This study aimed to replicate the four-factor structure of the Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised (DMQ-R) reported for Western populations. Additionally, the relationships between drinking motives and alcohol use were investigated. Methods: In 2012, 436 participants (mean age = 20.49 and SD = 1.49; 50% male) recruited from a college in China completed a self-administered survey in their classroom setting. Drinking motives were measured by the Chinese version of the DMQ-R; three indicators of alcohol use were assessed. Factor analysis was conducted to examine the factor structure of the DMQ-R, followed by regression analysis to investigate the associations between drinking motives and alcohol-related outcomes. Results: Confirmatory factor analysis failed to replicate the measurement model tested, but exploratory factor analysis identified a similar four-dimensional factor structure. Reliability and convergent and discriminant validity of the four factors were acceptable. The results also showed that social motives were related to alcohol use and heavy drinking; conformity motives were related to alcohol use and alcohol-related problems. Enhancement motives were the strongest correlates of alcohol use; coping motives were the strongest correlates of heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems. Conclusions/Importance: The DMQ-R was a reliable and valid scale measuring four types of drinking motives among Chinese college students. Findings suggested that the motivational model of alcohol use may apply to studying college drinking in China.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2015 · Substance Use & Misuse
    • "Further potential limitations include the use of self-report measures, which are susceptible to mono-method and mono-rater biases. Although, self-reports offer a reliable and valid approach to assessing alcohol consumption [39] and both perceived parental monitoring and parent-reported monitoring have been associated with alcohol outcomes [8]. The truncated scoring schemes of the sensation-seeking and parental monitoring measures limited variability in these measures potentially reducing our power to detect effects, and associations may be underestimated. "
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    ABSTRACT: We examined the time-varying effects of sensation seeking, lack of perseverance, and parental monitoring on heavy drinking and alcohol-related harms from ages 16 to 28 years. Participants were from the Victoria Healthy Youth Survey, followed six times, biennially, between 2003 and 2013 (N = 662; mean age at Time 1 = 15.52, range = 12-18). Analyses used time-varying effect models, which estimate how the association between a predictor and an outcome differs over time without assuming the association follows a parametric function of time. Sensation seeking was a stable risk factor for heavy drinking, and lack of perseverance was stable risk factor for alcohol-related harms at each age. Parental monitoring was associated with lower rates of heavy drinking in adolescence and lower rates of alcohol harm until the age of 24 years. Moreover, high levels of parental monitoring moderated the association between personality traits and rates of harm at ages 17-20 years but only for youth high on lack of perseverance and low on sensation seeking. The results provide a better understanding of age-related changes in risk and protective factors of alcohol use across the transition to adulthood. Impulsive personality traits are stable risk factors for alcohol outcomes until the late-20s despite typical age-related declines in these traits and drinking. Moreover, parental monitoring buffers the association between personality traits and alcohol harm for specific youth during the transition to adulthood. Personality-targeted interventions may be effective beyond adolescence, and parenting interventions may help reduce harm among low perseverance, low sensation-seeking youth. Copyright © 2015 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2015 · Journal of Adolescent Health
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