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J Health Soc Behav. 2002 Sep;43(3):307-16.

Stability of retrospective reports in depression: traumatic events, past depressive episodes, and parental psychopathology.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Jordan Hall, Bldg. 420, Stanford, CA 94305-2130, USA.


Research findings based on the retrospective reports of depressed individuals have long been held suspect because of possible negative reporting biases associated with depression. In the present study we assess the stability of retrospective reports of past traumatic events, past depressive episodes, parental depression, and parental substance abuse in a sample of 234 adults whose depression status changed over two assessments conducted one year apart. Depression status was found to affect reporting of number of past depressive episodes and past traumatic events, but not reporting of parental psychopathology. Implications of these findings are discussed for research that relies on the retrospective self-reports of depressed participants.

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