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J Sex Marital Ther. 2002 Jul-Sep;28(4):331-8.

Reliability of retrospective self-reports of sexual and nonsexual health behaviors among women.

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Center for Health and Behavior Syracuse University, 430 Huntington Hall, Syracuse, NY 13244-2340, USA.


The accuracy of self-reports regarding sexual health behavior has been questioned. To investigate whether sexual health behaviors are uniquely difficult to report, we asked 185 college women to answer behavioral frequency questions about sexual and nonsexual health behaviors for an 8-week interval. Women either took part in a face-to-face interview or completed a self-administered questionnaire. One week later, the women returned and responded to the same questions in the same mode of assessment conditions. The test-retest intraclass correlations showed that all health behaviors, sexual and nonsexual, were reported reliably. There was a trend for lower-frequency reports to yield more-stable estimates of behavioral frequency. These findings converge with other methodological investigations to indicate that socially sensitive health behaviors are not more difficult to assess reliably.

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