Underreporting of alcohol consumption is one of the major challenges in survey research including self-reports. The aim of this study was to test whether underreporting can be reduced by prompting respondents to first reflect on their drinking in the past week and then answer quantity-frequency based screening questions on their typical alcohol use. Data come from 2,379 adults (54% female; mean age = 31.8 years, SD = 11.4 years) consecutively recruited at a local registration office in northeastern Germany. Participants responded to an electronic, self-administered questionnaire on different health behaviors. They were randomized to receiving the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test—Consumption (AUDIT-C) either before or after the assessment of past week timeline follow-back questions. Logistic regression models were calculated predicting positive screening results for at-risk drinking. Potential interaction effects with gender, age and educational background were explored. Results show that the assessment of past week alcohol consumption prior to the assessment of the AUDIT-C reduced the odds of obtaining positive screening results (OR = 0.83; 95% CI = 0.70–0.99). There were no interaction effects with gender, age and educational background. As a secondary finding, participants reported consistently lower alcohol consumption in the alcohol measure that was administered later in the questionnaire. Preceding questions about alcohol consumption in the past week reduced the probability of positive screening results for at-risk drinking. Our findings suggest that prompting people to recall past week alcohol use prior to screening may not be a solution to reduce underreporting.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)