Recall bias in self-reported childhood health: differences by age and educational level

H van de Mheen*, K Stronks, CWN Looman, JP Mackenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study examines the impact of recall bias on self-reported childhood health. In a population of people aged from 25 to 74 years, childhood health was assessed retrospectively to explore its influence on socio-economic inequalities in adult health. Data were obtained from a postal survey in the baseline of a prospective cohort-study (the Longitudinal Study on Socio-Economic Health Differences in The Netherlands). Childhood health was measured as self-reported periods of severe disease in childhood. Relationships between childhood health on the one hand and adult educational level on the other were analysed using logistic regression models.

A negative association between childhood health problems and adult educational level was found in the youngest age group (25-34 years). In the older age groups, however, a lower adult socio-economic status was not clearly associated with more health problems in childhood. In view of what we know about socio-economic inequalities in childhood health in the past, it is likely that the lack of association between educational level and childhood health in the older age groups is (partly) caused by a recall bias. Using simple questions on self-reported childhood health problems, the measurement of childhood health in older age groups will be biased by differential recall between socio-economic groups. Other possibilities in the use of retrospective data in studying childhood health problems should be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-254
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Volume20
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • socio-economic status
  • childhood health
  • recall bias
  • ADULT MORTALITY
  • MEDICAL RECORDS
  • BREAST-CANCER
  • QUESTIONNAIRE
  • VALIDITY
  • INEQUALITIES
  • RELIABILITY
  • NETHERLANDS
  • MORBIDITY
  • ACCURACY

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