Problems of recall and misclassification with checklist methods of measuring stressful life events.

K. G. Raphael, M. Cloitre, B. P. Dohrenwend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The prevalent use of life event category checklists to facilitate event recall may be one reason that previous studies find that life events play only a small and ambiguous role in the development of health problems. In this study, 136 persons with temporomandibular pain disorder syndrome (TMPDS) and 131 healthy controls reported the occurrence of life events in 10 monthly interviews, using an event category checklist. At the end of the study, they reported retrospectively and in detail about life events over the previous monthly periods. Only one quarter of the event categories appeared in both the monthly interviews and retrospective report for the same period. Detailed analyses revealed problems of inaccuracy inherent in checklists that exacerbate problems of recall. The findings indicate that checklist category approaches should not be used when the goal is to understand the role of stress in adverse health outcomes. Suggestions are made about more adequate methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-74
Number of pages13
JournalHealth psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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