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Int J Epidemiol. 1983 Mar;12(1):84-7.

Agreement between women's histories of oral contraceptive use and physician records.


The histories of oral contraceptive (OC) use provided by women participating in a study of hepatocellular adenoma (HCA) were compared with records obtained from their physicians. In the HCA study two memory aids were used to assist women in their recall: a calendar of significant events during a woman's lifetime to which she might relate her use of OCs and a book of colour photographs of the 90 OC preparations available up to the time of the study. Using the number of months of a woman's history which could be checked against physician records (mean for all women of 33 months) as the denominator, the highest proportion of concordance was for month-specific duration of OC use (90%) with lower agreement for duration and brand (62%) and duration, brand, and dose (54%). Agreement was better for cases than for controls.


The adequacy of women's verbal accounts in determining oral contraceptive (OC) exposure was assessed by comparing the respondents' histories with prescribers' records. The study participants were selected from 299 women who had participated in a case-control study of hepatocellular adenoma. 2 memory aids were utilized during the interview: a calendar of significant life events to which a woman might relate her OC use and a color photograph book of 90 OC preparations available up to the time of the study. 61 cases and 69 controls were actually included in the study. Agreement for month-specific duration was 90%; for duration and brand, 62%; and for duration, brand and dose, 54%. Each of these categories was significantly different from the others and agreement was significantly higher for cases than for controls. The results compare favorably to 2 other studies, even with the increased complexity of this study, i.e., longer interval between OC use and interviews and a much greater number of brands and doses to choose from. The memory aids proved useful in recall performance.

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